Sandibe Okavango is an eco-hotel, which was recently constructed on a UNESCO World Heritage site in the Okavango Delta, Botswana. It is sustainable from the ground up and clearly demonstrates that comfort and luxury does not necessarily need to the sacrificed for sustainability.
The Sandibe Okavango is a reimagining of an older hotel by the same name, which stood in that location for the past 17 years. The new one was completely redesigned by Nicholas Plewman Architects. The structure resembles an upturned boat when viewed from the outside. The laminated pine beams give the structure its curvilinear shape, while the outside skin of the hotel is created out of layers of pine scale planks that were waterproofed with an acrylic membrane and then covered in Canadian cedar shingles. All the decks and flooring were made from FSC-approved hardwood. Also, instead of glass they used fabric “glazing” which offers great thermal efficiency and weather resistance.
Due to the fact the building site is a World Heritage site, the builders faced a lot of restrictions. These mandated that the building be made entirely out of biodegradable materials, and that the site had to be cleared of the tons of non-biodegradable material before they could begin construction. In addition, the building was also required to have minimal impact on the fauna and flora in the area. Also, 70 percent of the hotel’s energy requirements had to be met by sustainable means, with the entire treatment of sewage and removal of waste process factored in.
The hotel built according to this restrictions and specifications is also completely off-the-grid. It features a 100-kVA (80-kW) photovoltaic array, which generates electricity for the entire structure and is supplemented by generators that run 3-4 hours per day. A solar array of evacuated tubes connected to heat pumps delivers hot water to the guest rooms. There is also an onsite biological treatment plant, through which used water and solid waste is pumped so that it is safe for discharge into the surrounding environment.
The Sandibe Okavango features 12 rooms that yield 24 beds. Each of the suites has its own fireplace, a private plunge pool and a private outdoor shower. The building also isn’t fenced off, meaning that nothing separates it from the lions, leopards, cheetahs, elephants, hippos, buffalo and other wildlife roaming the surrounding area.
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