Known as the Heart of the Cape Floral Kingdom, the area contains a concentration of mountain fynbos, a stretch of shrubland native to South Africa that rivals the floral diversity of tropical rainforests, despite being the smallest floral kingdom on Earth.
Just outside Cape Town, the surrounding area is home to a variety of reserves and accompanying accommodations-with the recent addition of the Mbali campus. The campus itself contains an administrative building, a natural swimming pool, and eight cabins - five two person cabins, and three six person cabins.
A network of elevated timber walkways connects the buildings, designed to lessen the impact of foot traffic on the grounds and allow plants and critters to continue life fairly uninterrupted beneath them.
The cabins are raised for the same purpose, sitting on small concrete pad foundations. Oriented for views and to protect against the wind, the structures employ a number of additional sustainable design techniques to work with the surrounding landscape and climate.
Timber sunscreens provide shading throughout the property, while gabion walls housing built-in ‘braais’ or barbecues, cool the area through thermal massing and ventilation. High-performance insulation and a central woodstove keep the cabins warm in cooler months, while their large windows and doors can be opened for breezes when it’s warmer. Indigenous endemic grasses are used for green roofing.
Utilities are provided by a mixture of off-grid and low-impact technologies like a dry toilet and a solar water heater. Pine was used throughout the project for cladding, as its readily available, lightweight, and will eventually gray with age.
Gracefully interwoven within their site, the Mbali cabins are available to book year-round for visitors. with rates starting at about $74.00/night in the off-season, with an additional Conservation Fee applied.