Return to Case Study Briefs

Eagle View Camp

Landscape Performance Benefits

Environmental

  • Preserved 100% of the project site with all disturbance confined to previously developed areas.
  • Saves an estimated 460,000 gallons of water monthly or approximately $24,000 annually as compared to a conventional resort landscape.
  • Saves 4,202 kWh of electricity monthly, approximately $11,000 per year, by changing from exclusive use of diesel fuel generators to solar panels with diesel fuel only used for back-up energy. This reduces carbon emissions from power generation by 71%.
  • Increased vegetation cover by 108% and supported an increase in individual buffalo by 26%, elephants by 72%, and giraffes by 26% in the wider Mara Naboisho.

Social

  • Perceived as significantly preserved by 100% of 21 surveyed community members who were familiar with the site before the project.
  • Perceived as visually appealing according to 100% of 36 surveyed users including community members, management, and visitors.

Economic

  • Saves an estimated $29,000 annually on a per-visitor basis in operations and maintenance costs.
  • Saved an estimated $378,000 in materials, labor, and transport costs during construction.
  • Generates an estimated $70,000 annually for the local community; $50,000 from ecolodge fees and $20,000 through sale of beads. Additionally, an estimated 600 families are supported through land leases.
  • Created 240 jobs during construction, and 26 new permanent jobs and 18 temporary ones after construction. The project also supports 150 women through a local beading group, which indirectly supports 600 people.

At a Glance

  • Designer

    HM Design

  • Project Type

    Resort/Hotel

  • Former Land Use

    Retrofit

  • Location

    Mara Naboisho Conservancy, C12
    Naboisho, Rift Valley

    Map it

  • Climate Zone

    Tropical savanna

  • Size

    15 acres

  • Budget

    $1 million

  • Completion Date

    2014

Eagle View Camp at the Mara Naboisho Wildlife Conservancy is a 15-acre ecolodge located north of the Maasai Mara Game Reserve, a world-renowned UNESCO World Heritage Site in Kenya. It is a public-private project that is 100% owned by the indigenous Koiyaki Maasai people. The local Maa-speaking Koiyaki community has a 30-year lease agreement with a private lodge operator, Basecamp Explorer, which they have been working with since 2011 to promote wildlife protection and conservation. Before the renovation, the rustic lodge was in a dilapidated state with no site planning or planting design. An extreme makeover transformed it from a 2-star, 5-villa property to one that is 4-star rated with 12 safari tents. The expansion and eco-conversion of the Wilderness Lodge complement the natural woodland savanna environment while having minimal impact on the ecology of the site. To create a truly sustainable ecolodge, social and ecological values were employed as the key underlying planning concepts.

  • Not a single tree or shrub was cut during construction. The new structures were carefully placed within the landscape to respect the site’s topography, hydrology, visual corridors, flora, and fauna, allowing for these natural systems to function and grow uninterrupted.
  • The site features signature native savanna woodland species of trees, flowers, and shrubs; most are significant to the local Maasai community. An example is “cottony” (Tarchonanthus camphoratus) which has medicinal value. Most shrubs have thorns to protect them from browsing mammals. All newly-planted trees and shrubs were sourced from the local community. The main building was designed to wrap around the existing vegetation, and tents are elevated on platforms.
  • The number of guest tents was increased from 5 to 9 in the redesign, and they are laid out in a semi-circular courtyard layout. The orientation of the luxury tents maximize views to the wildlife-rich woodlands.
  • Elevated viewing decks allow natural drainage and ensure safety whilst at the same time providing sweeping views and a spiritual connection with the animals. 
  • All landscape elements – walkways, benches, signage - were constructed with the use of locally sourced materials and most of the landscape requires only minor maintenance. The contractor used local labor and materials for the construction of the narrow gravel pathways, which are carpeted with elephant dung, a traditional construction method.  Signage is made of local slate and ragged stone-semi walls are made of local stone. 
  • No landscape lighting was included to allow guests to view the stars without any light pollution. Solar panels supply energy for interior lighting. 

Challenge

  • Create a project that meets the standards of an authentic ecolodge set by the International Ecotourism Society.
  • Reduce the overall impact on the site yet provide a tourism experience that meets the needs of the operator, clientele, and the local community beneficiaries.
  • Involve the Koiyaki Maasai community in planning and cultivate a feeling of ownership.
  • Create full- and part-time local jobs and support economic growth for the surrounding Maasai community.
  • Maximize scenic views from the natural escarpment.
  • Promote continuity of the local vernacular using planning concepts borrowed from the Maasai people.
  • Limiting construction to only improving existing roads, walkways, and tented bandas was the most efficient way to use and preserve the land. Since the existing vegetation was left untouched, more undergrowth of the native tree species like “cottony” (Tarchonanthus camphoratus) has occurred.
  • Participation by the Koiyaki Maasai community in the planning, construction and maintenance of the ecolodge has led to the spread of conservation practices in the neighboring areas. Likewise, the area’s high dependency on animal keeping as an income generator has been supplemented by the job opportunities that the ecolodge has provided.
  • The number of visitors has doubled since the redesign despite the challenges of accessing the ecolodge, which is 124 kilometers from Nairobi.

Project Team

Landscape Architect and Design Architect: HM Design
Client: Basecamp Explorer and Koiyaki Maasai Group Ranch
Local Community: The Koiyaki Maasai people
Architect of Record: Studio Infinity
Structural and Civil Engineer: Matrix Consultants
Mechanical and Electrical Engineer: Checkom Consultants
Quantity Surveyor: Towercost Consultants

Role of the Landscape Architect

The landscape architect led a local consultant team to provide consultancy services for the expansion and eco-reconversion of the Wilderness Lodge. The conceptual to construction supervision exercise included on-site visits to numerous existing lodges and on-site Participatory Planning Workshops and charrettes.

Case Study Prepared By

Research Fellow: Dennis Karanja, MAAK(A), PHD, Lecturer, Jomo Kenyatta University of Agriculture and Technology
Research Assistant: Carolyne Wanza Nthiwa, MAAK(LA), Jomo Kenyatta University of Agriculture and Technology
Firm Liaison: Hitesh Metha, FASLA, FRIBA, FAAK, President, HM Design
August 2019

To cite:

Karanja, Dennis, and Carolyne Wanza Nthiwa. “Eagle View Camp.” Landscape Performance Series. Landscape Architecture Foundation, 2019. https://doi.org/10.31353/cs1520

Topics

Land efficiency/preservation, Water conservation, Populations & species richness, Energy use, Carbon sequestration & avoidance, Cultural preservation, Scenic quality & views, Operations & maintenance savings, Construction cost savings, Job creation, Visitor spending, Shade structure, Native plants, Local materials, Revitalization

The LPS Case Study Briefs are produced by the Landscape Architecture Foundation (LAF), working in conjunction with designers and/or academic research teams to assess performance and document each project. LAF has no involvement in the design, construction, operation, or maintenance of the projects. See the Project Team tab for details. If you have questions or comments on the case study itself, contact us at (email hidden; JavaScript is required).

Help build the LPS: Find out how to submit a case study and other ways to contribute.