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The Observatory


Silvio Rech and Lesley Carstens, of Silvio Rech & Lesley Carstens Architecture and Interior Architecture, custom-designed The Observatory, a spectacular space nestled in the Waterberg Leobo Private Reserve. What kind of work are Silvio Rech & Lesley Carstens known for in South Africa? The husband and wife team behind the Silvio Rech & Lesley Carstens Architecture and Interior Architecture have put a contemporary spin onto African architecture, coming up with a language that is entirely their own interpretation of what African style is all about. Based in Johannesburg since 2004, they have extended the language to contemporary modern buildings, maintaining the same principles of holistic design, and designing the buildings and interiors in their entirety. What is the Silvio Rech & Lesley Carstens style philosophy? Their philosophy is based on encompassing the culture, local materials and colours of the environment surrounding a chosen site. In order to do this effectively, they have lived on-site at a variety of exotic locations and endeavour to stay true to what that environment offers, using local craftsmen and local products so that their structure reflects an authenticity and unique detailing. What did Silvio Rech & Lesley Carstens love most about designing The Observatory? This was an opportunity to take their signature philosophy to a new, sophisicated level. This is seen in various pieces of furniture that were crafted specifically for their client, Rory Sweet. According to Silvio, the colours are more refined and the bush camp formula is more distilled. We loved Rory Sweet's distinctive personality and open-mindedness. Putting in a telescope was something we’d never have done and the library is a definite statement of Rory’s eccentricity. What works about the design of The Observatory? It works because of the mix of being in a comfort zone, that is, the bush, the wooden features, the natural surroundings, as well as the totally innovative design throughout the house, which pushes the boundaries, and in some areas is completely avant-garde. The comfort zone balances out what could be overwhelming. Why should HL readers stay at The Observatory? The Waterberg is a beautiful, malaria-free region, very close to Johannesburg and Pretoria, and The Observatory is completely private. Secondly, it cannot be compared to any other bush camp, as all the pieces of furniture are bespoke and handmade specifically for the house, such as the 3D crochet cactus cushions and the wildebeest hide ceiling in a recessed lounge. Thirdly, the architect duo has won numerous international awards. Silvio Rech and Lesley Carstens Architecture and Interior Architecture; adventarch@mweb.co.za; The Observatory (reservations), 087-808-1513, leoboprivatereserve.com For more, turn to page 32 of the June 2013 issue of HL.