From the Architects:
Arijiju lies on the lowland. The building behaves as though it has always been on that warm stone hillside with living, grassed roofs that move with the air and link into the earth and forest. It is there but not there. Partly sculptured into the rock bed, the subtle entrance opens into a fragrant, greened space with generous Swahili curves and an air of elastic calm.
Walls of stone create walkways that lure you into cool shade and lead you towards dappled suntraps and Lamu day beds. Beyond the main house, alongside a gnarled African olive tree, a slice of pool hangs over the untamed wild of the Sieku valley in the Borana Lewa Conservancy – a thriving piece of the game-rich Kenyan highland s and a true sanctuary for adventure.
The overriding philosophy was one of humility and respect for what was already there, this meaning making every effort for the building to become part of and blend into the beautiful natural surroundings. The building fits into the Borana LEWA Conservancy like a well-tailored suit, the concept artfully sustainable and ties into the support and maintenance of the conservancy’s elephant migration corridors, lion research projects and the vital protection of resident black rhino.
It is at its simplest a family home. Her architecture borrows romance from Swahili vernacular, inspiration from rock hewn churches of Ethiopia and uses the Kenyan tradition of grouped rooms that can house multi-generations. Local stone, local timber and solar power help her tread lightly on the earth but, essentially, she is an anomaly. Her hand cut Meru stone, immense wooden Lamu style doors, functional ironmongery, copper accents and her grass roofs make an iconic, contemporary living space that is also an incredible comfortable place to be. Every detail in the main house feeds a love for raw materials, classic lines and longevity.
The main house has three bedroom suites that share a courtyard garden with wild herbs and billowing lavender. Light cuts across the space throughout the day creating graphic shadows and sanctuaries of cool on hot days. Walk around this garden and you will reach the living space, library, kitchen then boot room, games room and cinema – all are linked in the vaulted walkways.
Outside the main dwelling, along paths cut into the rock are two very private, generous guest suite buildings. Their floor-to-ceiling doorways frame the immense forested views outside, on their east-facing terraces, chairs hewn out of tree trunks grow blonde under the Kenyan Sun.
Arijiju’s main lounge and dining room are part of one elongated, double-volume space with walk in fireplaces on each end. Beyond this jaw dropping space lit by huge upended candles, a bar-counter, glinting with metallic details, invites you into another lounge and the perfect place to start an evening.