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Empathetic Architecture – Whats the point?

Empathetic Architecture – Whats the point

Empathetic Architecture – Whats the pointKarter Margub & Associates lands a new bush Lodge design project for a Russian client. Speaking to internationally recognised Game lodge designer Gareth Williams-Wynn of KMA he stated that it is great to work with clients who understand that working in remote areas often brings challenge’s to the budget. Services that are taken for granted i.e. water, sewerage and electricity supply and their related management are seldom considered in the initial business plan.

Karter Margub & Associates was referred by a past customer who had used Williams-Wynn on previous projects and once the necessary due diligence was completed the client realised after a lengthy tele-conference that Williams-Wynn was the right designer. Although initially taken aback by Williams-Wynn’s insistence in analysing the business plans financial implication before accepting the project the client realised that this person brought a new skill set to the scheme.

Speaking with Williams-Wynn, it was found that although he had been on the drawing board for 32 years, he has infact specialised in gamelodge design for the last twenty six years and his practice is well versed in bringing what he refers to as “Empathetic Architecture” into the design.

“One must take into account the smell of the land, the way that objects expand and contract through the heat of the day and once this canvass is absorbed only then can one tell what design suites the land best. Karter Margub uses as much of the local resource as possible. In the hospitality industry, staff are the second most important key next to your client. Consider how they will be incorporated into the scheme, where do they live, play, shop and go to school? Upliftment when possible is always something he challenges his client with. Local is good.“

If one is designing a camp for local hunters it is greatly different than designing a camp for international trophy hunters. The target market LSM is very important to the style and type of service. Each game lodge actually is a select service product and that is why KMA are very concerned that the financial ratio and expected ROI is achievable. Anyone can draw plans – but it is another scenario when one designs life styles. The team at KarterMargub work at the gazetted recommended minimum fees established by theSouth African government and if the client does not see the merit in their skill set then they would rather opt out of entering into an agreement that could reflect badly on their reputation.“Dont cut costs on Design services”


Williams-Wynn, a bush lodge designer with a reputation for good solid work mentions that the client must understand the soul and energy that his 32 year practice brings. If the numbers don’t add up he would rather walk away from the assignment than ruin the firms’ credibility.

Designing game or bush lodges around the world whether for a private or commercial client is something very dear to his heart as Gareth was born in Southern Rhodesia in the Late 50s on a farm deep in rural nowhere-ness he tells me. Shona (a local black African dialect) was mostly spoken until he attended boarding school at the age of five when he started learning English.He laughingly tells me that he usually chuckle’s when his American clients think he is black and comment when they physically see him. They just don’t understand that Africans are also white. He is currently working on lodges in Ghana, Botswana, Tanzania and South Africa.

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