View over Africa

A wooden observation tower in the African savannah. Victor Ortiz’s design creates an extraordinary experience in the Kenyan Masai Mara plain.

The Masai Mara plains. 1,500 square kilometres of untouched nature. A reserve that connects Kenya with the Serengeti National Park in Tanzania. An unrivalled safari paradise. Victor Ortiz, founder of victor b. ortiz architekturstudio, has designed a wooden observation tower that will be built here in the savannah. Twenty metres wide and forty-eight metres high, the tower will take the safari experience to a new level.

A tower made of wood

Wooden architecture has a long tradition in Africa. And so Victor Ortiz honours African history with the special construction method of the tower – made of pure wood. Traditional building practices are combined with today’s requirements for sustainable construction. A vision that the New York-based architect lives by anyway: Victor Ortiz wants to create unique, liveable spaces that stand for sustainability and innovation. This is precisely what the architect skilfully incorporates into the wooden observation tower.

Seven platforms, which resemble the canopy of the umbrella acacia, give the tower its special shape. Next to it, at the lower end of the tower, a smaller eighth platform is being built. It almost looks as if the tower itself is growing out of the savannah. To further emphasise its naturalness, the edges of the individual platforms are planted with greenery. And indeed, the structure of the observation tower resembles that of a tree.

The centrally supported construction ensures stability and at the same time minimises the footprint and therefore the impact on the landscape.

Victor B. Ortiz, Founder of victor b. ortiz architecture

From the centre, wooden beams, as well as many small tree trunks and branches, support the individual platforms, which spread out towards the top. The different wooden elements, secured by steel connections, form a unit and give the observation tower its powerful appearance.

Safari from a different perspective

The wooden construction gives the impression that Victor Ortiz is creating a new habitat in the natural ecosystem of the Masai Mara plains He created a project that will attract travellers and present them with the beauty of the landscape with a 360° view. At the same time, the tower is intended to raise awareness of nature conservation. At the right time, you can observe unique natural spectacles from the top: Once a year, for example, the wildebeest embark on their great animal migration. And if you lie in wait long enough, you might be able to spot the Big Five – elephant, lion, leopard, rhino and buffalo – in the savannah.

Fascination that combines architecture and nature

Although the architect is primarily known for his unusual designs in the USA and Brazil, the wooden observation tower is not his first project in Africa. Victor Ortiz had already presented a residential project in the West African Ivory Coast in 2023.

All of the studio’s projects are based on sustainable design principles that are both functional and environmentally friendly. Victor Ortiz’ projects take into account the unique needs of each location and culture, creating truly innovative and unique spaces.

Victor Ortiz Observation Tower

A basic concept that is also reflected in the observation tower for the Masai Mara Plain. By using natural materials, Victor Ortiz manages to emphasise the tradition of wooden architecture and incorporate the natural conditions on site into his project. And although the attraction itself is the wooden tower, the focus is ultimately on the vast African landscape that surrounds it. Architecture that emphasises nature.

Text: Eva Schroeder
Bilder: victor b. ortiz architecture