The Shire Eco Lodge was inspired by the desire to create a space truly unique through combining innovative design with a magnificent setting. Striving towards an environmentally aware form of accommodation, many design and building decisions were made with this goal in mind.
The extraordinary chalets were designed to value some of the philosophies of organic architecture, such as a consideration of how the shape and setting of the building affect its inhabitants and how the building blends in with its natural environment. The curved walls serve more function than aesthetic appeal and the positive impact on its inhabitants. The shape assists in a natural cooling system, where the hot air rises to the apex of the chalet and can be released by draw-string manipulated roof windows.
The chalets are built on stilts, which avoids levelling the earth and minimizing the impact on the environment. The chalets are made from exotic wood which locally sourced thus maintains a low carbon footprint. Rob Scott, the owner and creator of The Shire, made all the chalets’ eco-furniture – from the beds, cupboards and tables to the drawers, mirrors and door handles – using problematic alien species (predominantly wattle and bluegum) which are locally harvested on the property.
A large reservoir was built to collect and store water (230 000L) which is used to service both the lodge and the indigenous nursery. The issue of greywater was addressed through the use of a reed bed – soak away system. Grey water from the conservancy tank runs into a stone filter system over which reeds are planted. Their roots purify the grey water so much so that it is clean enough to drink.
The land on which The Shire is built had previously been used for agriculture and was badly damaged. One of the key objectives in utilising the land was to restoreit to its previous condition – prior to the intervention of farmers. The indigenous nursery was born of this rehabilitative objective. It now houses a diverse range of indigenous plants, many of grow in The Shire’s natural gardens. Focusing on local species, the nursery is home to many rare and endangered plant species with the aim of conservation through propagation.
Promoting an appreciation of natural areas and the conservation of the environment are two key motivations behind the creation of The Shire Eco Lodge. The Shire is on the edge on the Amatola mountains and afro-montane forests – literally a few steps – opening it to peaceful coexistence with the fauna and flora. Aiming to be as unobtrusive as possible, the lodge seeks minimize its impact on the environment while providing a form of eco-accommodation that eases guests into a serene natural environment through setting and architectural innovation.