First Hand

26 May 2015 | Inside Angama |

Nicky Fitzgerald writes about her experience in working with highly talented architect and creative genius Sylvio Rech and his ability to pick up just about any writing tool close to him and create exceptional, to scale designs

It has been over 20 years since I last worked on a project with Silvio Rech. If you had asked either of us back then as we finished building the extraordinary Ngorongoro Crater Lodge in Tanzania if there was the slightest possibility of working together again the mutual answer would have been a resounding ‘No’. We drove each other mad and now I can put it down to creative genius vs practical operator and the whole project exacerbated by El Niño. The more we built the more it rained the more we got on each other’s nerves. Somewhere in that crossfire Lesley Carstens, Silvio’s partner both on and off screen and a hugely talented architect, quietly just went about smoothing the way for us all.

But this little story is about Silvio and not about the beautiful lodges he and Les have designed across Africa; North Island in the Seychelles; Mombo in the Okavango Delta; and Chinzombo in Zambia just to name a few.

It’s about sharing a little known fact about Silvio.

I had forgotten in the intervening 20 years that Silvio designs buildings freehand – and pretty much to scale. He uses a dizzying array of pencils, both fat and thin, coloured pens that turn sketches into something you want to immediately frame – in fact any writing tool he can lay his hands on. I think I even saw him once designing in the sand with a stick.

It is a marvelous thing to watch. And we have had much joy observing him create Angama Mara out of the end of a pencil whilst all around him in his studio young architects whir away at 3D designs on double screen computers. In the middle of all this technology Silvio takes a clean sheet of paper, reaches for a pencil and begins to draw.

Angama Mara Baraza drawn by Silveo Rech

It brings to mind the 1986 FIFA World Cup when Maradona used a similar hand in the quarter final between Argentina and England …

FILED UNDER: Inside Angama

AUTHOR: Nicky Fitzgerald

After more than 30 years in hospitality, starting with a small hotel at the foot of Africa and followed by a further couple of Cape hotels, most notably The Bay, and sixty plus safari lodges across Africa and India, Nicky has served more meals, puffed more cushions, filled more beds, trained more staff and opened more properties than she cares to remember. Nicky retired as Angama's CEO in July of 2022 and remains an advisor and delightfully opinionated member of the Board.

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