Building a Lapa in Marlow

on 20th January 2016

Thames Valley Landscapes was recently commissioned to build a traditional Lapa on the banks of the Thames in Marlow. This ‘lapa’ project was for an existing customer for whom we have previously laid a beautiful travertine patio, and new cobbled driveway.

A lapa is a structure that is popular in South Africa that usually consists of a thatched roof supported by wooden poles, for use as semi-open entertainment areas.

For this particular project, the materials used were of the highest quality throughout and chosen to complement the surroundings: York stone walling, York stone paving, English oak, cedar shingles and composite decking from Millboard.

In mid-October we began the project, that was months in the planning, and eventually took 6 weeks to complete.

Working with a riverside location

The location of the property is beautiful, overlooking the River Thames near Marlow, which required the build to match the setting.

Initially it was essential that we ran the cables underground from the house to the corner of the garden down on the river bank, so the finished lapa would have power and lighting. Next, a concrete slab was poured to act as a solid foundation on which the structure would be built.

To bring things out of the ground, we built the waist high walling from beautiful York stone with piers in each corner, and halfway along the sides. Openings were left facing the garden and the river, for access to the house, and down onto the decking. At the end opposite the river, we built in a chimney over a barbecue area.

Lapa Project Marlow

On top of these piers, the 8 inch oak posts were situated, with the main roof structure fixed together from these points. Following on from the oak frame, we built the roof itself from cedar batten and shingles, which have a beautiful reddish colour.

Lapa Build Marlow

Lapa Roof Structure

Lapa roof structure

Cedar shingles on lapa roof

Next the floor of the lapa was laid with traditional York stone paving and pointed with a traditional soft sand mortar. This complemented the York stone walling beautifully.

The Completed Lapa

Stretching out from the river end of the lapa, we laid 70m of composite decking in a coppered oak colour. Composite decking is basically made of a combination of wood and plastic that has the additional benefit that it will never rot. The wood element can be sawdust, wood chippings, or wood fibre. Traditional timber decking will last for many years if looked after properly, but composite decking requires no maintenance other that the occasional clean to keep it looking smart. In theory, if installed properly, it will last forever.

Sunk into the decking we also built a fire pit, great for a summer evening when the air starts to cool. It goes without saying that it will be perfect for toasting marshmallows. We’re hoping our customer will be inviting us along for a party next summer!

If you’re interested in building a lapa or other garden building for outdoor entertaining next summer, contact us here at Thames Valley Landscapes for a quote.

Building a Lapa in Marlow

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