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Top architectural award for Bitterpan Wilderness Camp

12 November 2003

Bitterpan, the new wilderness camp in Kgalagadi, has received a top accolade from the Pretoria Institute for Architecture. The institute's awards of commendation are made annually in recognition of outstanding architectural design. As regional winner, Bitterpan is now a nominee for the national award by the SA Institute of Architects to be announced later in 2003.

Elevated above the red sands of the Kalahari and suspended in time, the small and exclusive camp was built on wooden stilts. Bitterpan lies in the heart of the wilderness, opening up a new route through the Kalahari dunes from Nossob to Mata-Mata. It can only be reached with 4x4 vehicles.

The camp is surrounded only by the silence of the great Kalahari. Here is the place to unwind, rest and find yourself ...The choice of architect was crucial to the success of the project. For those who know him, there was no doubt that Neil Crawford and his team were the best qualified for this very unique endeavour. The great success of this project can be traced back directly to the love of this architect for the wide open spaces, which he so often visits with his 4x4. His love and dedication melts into a work of art ... capturing nature in design... bringing together facets of the Kalahari, like simplicity, and the great outdoors ... He also managed to link construction with the unspoilt Kalahari, not only blending in with, but enhancing the Bitterpan.

In the architect's own words: "We were thrilled when we were commissioned to design and oversee the construction of the Bitterpan Wilderness Camp in the Kgalagadi Transfrontier Park. The camp overlooks (in a north-westerly direction) Bitterpan, a seasonal pan in the Kalahari Desert. It is a place of such austere unique nature that it was obvious from the outset that we would have to extend ourselves in the execution of the project so as not to detract from the sense of place the pan possesses.

The project was financed by South African National Parks via the Industrial Development Corporation. The camp can only be reached by 4x4 and as such is used by groups travelling together. The brief called for a central kitchen/dining/lounge unit with connected sleeping units for eight, one being accesible to disabled people.

Dries Engelbrecht, Regional Manager Arid Parks commented: "Now the visitor can enjoy the Kalahari as it really is!"

Marketing: Arid ParksHenriette Engelbrecht

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