The real lost city

The design of Lefika Villas, a new high-end luxury accommodation
offering at the Sun Vacation Club, with architecture, landscaping
and interiors by Boogertman + Partners, was inspired by the real
‘Lost City’ of the greater Sun City resort.

Lefika Villas is a new high-end luxury accommodation offering at Sun City in the Pilanesberg, consisting of 48 three-bedroom and 10 free-standing four-bedroom villas, all en-suite. The new luxury villas form the first phase of a larger development envisaged for the Sun Vacation Club and includes a clubhouse, new restaurants and other amenities.

Lefika means ‘stone’ in the local Setswana language, and pays homage to the adjacent stone-walled Itlholanoga heritage site – the real ‘Lost City’ of the greater Sun City resort. 

Boogertman + Partners Architectural Team Manager, Lila Gouws, says that their approach, while inspired by the heritage site, was not a literal interpretation. Rather, they took inspiration from the materiality of the historical village, but executed the design in a clean-lined contemporary style. The surrounding landscape and views were fundamental to the influence on their design and layout.

“The expansive mountain views from the villas evoke a feeling of being in nature, built in the trees on a mountainous site, overlooking the valley below, with design inspiration generated from the local flora and fauna,” says Gouws, who hiked the site together with Landscape Architect Mariska Els for two days to gain an understanding of its ‘sense of place’. 

Gouws says important natural features on site, such as rocky outcrops and large trees, informed the placement of each villa and ensured that all the villas have magnificent unobstructed views, while being private from neighbours.

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“Our contemporary South African interpretation adopted a bespoke approach to the site and there are many elements that have been specifically custom designed for the project,” Gouws says. 

“The natural environment was used as a driving factor in all decisions and influenced the colour and material palette; from the external natural stone walls to the interior art, soft furnishings, cutlery and crockery, creating a unique and truly contextual aesthetic.

“We used site-specific natural materials in the design and procurement process – natural stone from the site for the walls, concrete tables, dark wood to emulate bark of the trees, blown glass, timber beads, felt and jute in the interiors. The result is a space that is peaceful and immersed in nature, where you can relax with family and friends.” 

Passive design principles used in the structure of the design make the villas energy friendly, such as ideal orientation, thick stone walls that keep the day’s heat out and create warmth at night, as well as maximised natural light.

Each bedroom follows a unique theme, emphasising an allocated colour and telling a different story by using artworks, furniture, surface finishes and lighting by local artists. Bathrooms are large, light and airy, with tactile surfaces and mood lighting creating a tranquil environment. 

“The bathrooms have a very personal feel, with enough hooks and shelving for guests to bring everything that makes them feel at home,” Gouws said. “This intuitive design is continued throughout the space, with ample charge points for a smorgasbord of technology to be plugged in. 

“We created a beautiful one-of-a-kind wallpaper using the local mountain range as a backdrop, with a spectacular graphic of local aloes and the Lefika Villas’ stone pattern. We have also focused on highlighting the crafts and cultural heritage from the North West Province, including weaving and beadwork.” 

The unique pendant lights hanging in the staircases and bathrooms, made from handblown glass by Glass Forming Academy, and the bead chandeliers in the dining rooms and bedrooms by MASH-T, are just two of the many features that cannot be bought off the shelf, and which celebrate South Africa’s local artistry. 

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All villas have a closed-combustion fireplace, an outdoor deck with braai, and an entertainment area. “In addition, the four-bedroom villas each boast their own private plunge pool and a fire pit,” says Sun City’s General Manager, Brett Hoppé.

Numerous green design principles have been implemented in the building of Lefika Villas to achieve optimal interior comfort and energy efficiency. The orientation of the villas, together with thick stone walls, thermal insulation to underside floors and on top of roof slabs, along with large overhangs, create the ideal thermal mass. 

Large glazed areas allow for ideal natural lighting levels, while strategically placed windows ensure that effective cross ventilation creates the perfect level of comfort for the guest. Water-saving sanitary fittings with energy-efficient cold start taps, heat pumps for effective water heating, and the use of LED lighting all contribute to the energy efficiency of the villas.Two of the three-bedroom villas have been designed for the mobility impaired, custom-made to be wheelchair-friendly, with grab handles, and height of basins adapted. “There are also emergency buttons within the villas, should assistance be required.”

Gouws describes Lefika Villas as a “gallery of South African artists and craftsmen” and an encouraging reflection on the country’s art and design scene. “Durban artist Karla Nixon, who works with shredded paper, was commissioned to create an abstract interpretation of the mountains in the colours of the African sunset.” The work, of almost 2m in length, will hang in the Lefika Villas reception area. Other fine artists whose work has been used include Sanmarie Harms, Mandisi Mncela, Sue Martin, Balekane Legoabe, Lara Kruger, Lesego Moncho and Sera Holland.

Professional team 
Client: Sun International Project manager: Betts Townsend Taylor Architect (Phase 1), Landscape architecture, Interior design: Boogertman + Partners Architect (Phase 2): MDS Architects Quantity Surveyor: MLC Quantity Surveyors Structural and civil engineers: Struxit Projects Mechanical and electrical engineers and HVAC: Zutari Wet services engineer and fire engineer: WSP Group Africa Land surveyor: HL Wattrus & Associates Occupational health & safety: Core

Tel: +27 (0)11 486 1274 

Tel: +27 (0)11 361 1300

Leading Architecture + Design is South Africa’s leading showcase of the country’s most exciting and innovative architectural and design projects. This bimonthly magazine speaks directly to South Africa’s architects, interior designers, engineers, construction companies and property developers. It also offers readers a showcase of the latest innovations, products and developments in the field of architecture and its related industries. The print edition of Leading Architecture + Design is complemented by a vibrant website, fortnightly newsletter and social media platforms.