The Observatory Villa at Leobo Private Reserve

Surrounded by the diverse Waterberg region and overlooking the Palala Valley lies Leobo Private Reserve, an 8000 hectare (20,000 acre)estate encompassing rugged rocks, bushveld savannah, natural streams and an abundance of wildlife. This magnificent, malaria-free destination provides the setting for an exclusive private house, the Observatory, designed by award-winning architects Silvio Rech and Lesley Carstens.  The dynamic duo have received a list of accolades which include (among many more) Tatler Traveller’s most Innovative Design of the year 1997 (North Island, Seychelles), Most Consistently Brilliant Hotel 2008, Visi Magazine’s Designer of the year 2011, Designer of the Year 2011(Randlords) by the interior Design Institute of SA and most recently, 2nd place in World Building of the Year (Villa) 2012.

The owner of The Observatory, Rory Sweet and his wife Liz, shared their enthusiasm and plenty of input with Silvio and Les to bring to fruition an innovative African Villa that speaks a diverse vocabulary in terms of structure and design.

The house consists of a cellular conglomerate that is true to African structural design, like huts around a kraal. As each part unfolds, the visitor is filled with a sense of wonder which reflects Rory and Liz’ vibrant personalities and love for adventure. The extraordinary dome which houses the astronomical observatory was sourced by Rory in America; star-gazing in the bush suddenly acquires a touch of scientific precision.  Tucked under this dome is an eccentric double-storey library with an open fireplace which is an explorer’s haven, with authentic books on Africana and modern day adventure.

A maximum of 9 people (6 adults, 3 children) can be accommodated, with 2 luxury bedrooms and luxurious bathrooms with baths, showers and massage beds inviting leisure and relaxation.  A triple bunk room leads to a separate guest room for a nanny; this self-contained nursery space has a separate bathroom and kitchenette. The Rech/Carstens ethos involves using local craftsmen, local materials and style in order to create authentic pieces of furniture and interiors. For instance, the immense hippo-skeleton chandelier which hovers over the sandstone dining table, or the wildebeest-hide ceiling in the small lounge and the beautiful beaded light –fittings which hang like multiple pearl necklaces over a window frame.

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