PRACTICE PHILOSOPHY

Our practice philosophy can be expressed by the Navajo/Diné concept of “hozho”, i.e. environmental beauty, the happiness one experiences by being in harmony with nature. Architecture can only be complete when it works well – true beauty comes from a combination of the pragmatic, the aesthetic and the sustainable.

The architect has a responsibility to society and the environment which informs our specific duty to our clients and cannot be ignored.

Nina Maritz Architects attempt to make buildings and places with meaning, thus not only to contain activities, but also to express their time and place. This leads to the making of beneficial environments, to add to, rather than detract from people’s lives. We try to create serenity and exterior-interior spaces where people feel comfortable and creative. We want to broaden people’s awareness of beauty, to have them experience their surroundings with heightened perception – and this includes a deeper appreciation of nature.

Contextual response is crucial: appropriate approaches in a country like Namibia entail careful deployment of funding to achieve as much as possible without wasting resources. Thorough design and lateral thinking make the most of limited means. The aesthetic impact of using materials in unusual ways, exploiting their natural textures and colours, can push the boundaries of architectural design.

For us, architecture is an integrated discipline of the environment. It employs art, science, psychology, engineering and multiple other tools to create spaces for life’s activities. It thus needs a holistic and inclusive approach, which mediates between individual and society, technology and nature, as well as the local and global, in order to be truly sustainable. This philosophy is not only applicable to ‘special’ projects, but to all buildings, regardless of function or cost.

SPECIAL INTERESTS

Over time, Nina Maritz Architects have become known mostly for environmentally sustainable design. This is a result of our interest in the environmental role of buildings and people in society. It not only includes the design and construction of low-embodied energy and appropriate green buildings, but includes their integrated into the local environmental and socio-cultural context.

With the socio-economic challenges facing Namibia, we pursue appropriate community development where we can. Such work challenges our creative skills and can be most rewarding. Our expertise in alternative construction methods and technologies have been extremely useful in many rural community-based projects where local materials and skills transfer can be utilised.

Conserving or creating bio-diverse contexts for our work is fuelled by a keen interest in indigenous nature, specifically plant life as a habitat. We rue the separation between human and nature that has resulted from technological advances and endeavour to reunite the two. Appropriate indigenous landscape design is thus integral to our approach.

Urban design and integrated social housing is a natural extension of our social and environmental interest. The relationship between buildings and their context, in terms of both the physical landscape and the socio-cultural environment, become far more evident on a larger scale.

The re-use and rehabilitation of existing structures are essential strategies in sustainable design and we enjoy such projects immensely. These often provide added scope for construction detailing using standard and available materials to create innovative but appropriate effects with impact. Frugal design visually manifests in small details and enhance the sensory experience of architecture. Broadening this into industrial and product design has tied into our overall approach.