The hands with a vision
"I was eating sawdust before I was born, my father was a carpenter. At 16, I started working with wood, first with windows. Coming from Cortina in Italy, 80 percent of the houses were made from wood. In 1982/83 I started my own company with wooden chairs, trademark furniture and building roofs. There, in Italy, my love-hate relationship with architects started,” laughs Pepe Olivotto, founder of Pepe Construction CC.
Pepe has a loud and expansive laugh. “On 9 February 1982, I lost my three fingers by over confidence. I thought I could train the machinery, but it trained me, today I know better! When life gives you lemons, you take her by the horns and move her to Africa for a G&T.”
“My love for Africa started with Paris Dakar in the mid 80’s. There in Italy, I could watch for hours the landscapes shown of Sahara sunset, and that led me leaving my love for woodwork to explore the great Africa as tour guide. Niger, Chad, Mali, Sudan, Algeria, Libya were my start-off points till 1997, when I landed in Namibia, where the beauty of the Namib Desert took me on my next adventure of guiding and lodge building.”
“Working at wilderness lodges, I started with lodge building, the first lodge was Skeleton Coast Fly-in Camp, early in 2002. And that’s how the love started for the building adventure, followed by the revamp of Little Kulala, Serra Cafema, Ongava Tented Camp and Damaraland Camp, where we built with sandbags.”
Why with sandbags?
“We wanted to use local material and lighten the carbon footprint by avoiding heavy transport to those remote areas. Now, we are regarded as forerunners in the eco-building concept. We try to come as close to perfection with exceptional design and craftmanship. I started my Namibian company in 2008, with the wonderful project of Onkoshi in the Etosha National Park.”
Pepe’s wife Jaqui, from Namibia, takes up the narrative: “Nature and the environment are incorporated into our designs using a combination of woods and composite products, metals, dead trees, rocks and canvas. Decking, flooring, balustrades, staircases and other aspects are each regarded in their own setting, always with an eye for practicality, design and functionality.”
The Olivotto team knows the challenges faced by wooden materials in Africa’s harsh climate. Regular maintenance of wooden decks is a necessity to make them last. Alternatively, they use materials like composite decking that has been tried and tested for our African sun. They use and distribute material from MoistureShield, Trex, Timbertech, Envirodeck – some of the best composite companies in the USA.
Pepe’s portfolio includes Sonop Lodge, Omaanda Lodge, Shipwreck Lodge, Sneyrivier Hunting Lodge and various other projects.Website: www.pepebushcamps.com Tel:
+264 61 305 180 Email
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Pepe Olivotto, founder of Pepe Construction CC.