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Hoedie’s woman is one of three in Africa to win AirBnB design prize

A Hoedspruit woman is one of three winners in Africa to be awarded $100 000 USD by the OMG AirBnB Fund for her proposal to build an eco-friendly yet “quirky, original one-of-a-kind design”.

Liezel Maree runs a business in Hoedspruit called Salty Sistas and entered the OMG AirBnB competition whereby 100 people from all over the world are awarded $100 000 to build their proposal. Maree told the Herald that with the money won, the building will have to start immediately after the prize money is released. “The build will be very closely monitored and audited by the OMF Fund team and we have to open for booking no later than August 2023, she said.

“Since purchasing my first property in Hoedspruit in 2009, I have been inspired to build a natural eco-friendly building. It only makes sense to utilise naturally occurring materials to create an energy-efficient building making use of natural light and airflow.” Maree says she has been influenced by the Spanish architect, Gaudi, with his use of natural lines and flowing architecture in all of his builds. “I have also followed Sigi Koko for many years, an inspirational female builder, creatively utilising only natural materials and alternative building techniques in all of her creations.”

Her Airbnb design combines eco-friendly techniques with her obsession with Himalayan salt. “I have released a Himalayan salt cookbook and built numerous salt rooms, as well as a salt spa over the past few years. When I heard about the OMG Fund competition from Airbnb, I pitched the idea of building a Salty Sistas ‘salt cave’ inside an eco-building. We will construct an off-the-grid, energy-efficient building using materials such as wine bottles, weathered trees, and salt bricks.

“Interesting features include a mosaic flood floor in the lounge area that can be filled with water to ankle height on those warm days, as well as a fire-driven hot tub. Cooking options will include indoor and outdoor pizza ovens, gas, and a fire pit.” It will also feature a natural clay pot cooler in the kitchen, which consists of a clay pot with a lid, surrounded with sand, placed inside a larger clay pot. By pouring water into the sand, creates a natural cooling effect inside the clay pot.

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Nature will feature inside the dwelling with two large indoor trees, dining room chair swings hanging from the ceiling, and a moss-covered greenhouse bathroom. The main feature inside the home will be a Himalayan salt cave, complete with salt floors, salt walls, and a root system hanging from a raised temple-like, circular ceiling. The building will be on the R71 between Tzaneen and Hoedspruit and will allow adventure travellers to have an exciting stop on their way to the Kruger National Park.

Maree said that as she moved through the stages of the competition, the requirements such as blueprints, renderings, flow charts, interviews, background and location checks, costing, and timelines had to be completed from the side of a hospital bed as her son had fallen severely ill. “The project offered a mental escape to many sleepless stressful nights. It was a natural process for me as the design has been in my head for many many years and sketching it took all of two minutes.

“The original house design was meant for my property in the Hoedspruit Wildlife Estate which never happened, so I am pleased I can finally complete my dream build! Thank you to all the locals that have been dropping off wine and beer bottles, we have collected over ten tons already,” she concluded.

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