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66 1 April 20, 2017

Namibian Design That is Static and Active

An exhibition that looks at Namibian architecture, past, present and future, is about to open its doors to the public to view an artistic counter point of static and active, which is what architecture, is described as.

Namibian architect Nina Maritz, notes, “What is interesting about architecture, it’s probably the most stunning art in one sense, because you build a building and it gets fixed. But how you use it and the way the sun moves through a building makes it active. It is like this counter point of static and active.”

Nina has spearheaded a project that is reflecting on what Namibian architecture is about. The last one of its kind was held fifteen years ago when the Namibian Institute of Architects turned 50 years old. 99FM’s MYD Art spoke to Nina to find out what we can expect from this exhibition and what is unique about Namibian architecture.

“Namibia has really developed a lot and it’s good for people to see what’s going on. I think most people don’t realise there are a lot of things happening in architecture in Namibia. There are architects in the rural areas, and a lot of young new architects doing interesting work. Here we are talking about where Namibian architecture comes from and what makes it a little different from architecture in other countries.”

The exhibition, Nina explains “is about Namibian architecture, things that are being built at the moment but also where the architecture comes from. We looked at influences like the landscape and the geology and also historical buildings that form part of the historical background.”

“We also looked at different types of settings. The coast has a very particular character and setting and so do the South and the North Central areas. We also have a section of the exhibition that is about Windhoek, the capital, and a part of it talks about the urban design issues, the planning problems that we have that are still a legacy of an apartheid city where you have kind of two “separately created” cities.”

“Part of it is looking at the buildings that have been inserted into this fabric so that even in the townships you now get buildings like the Mine Workers Union of Namibia, what role they can play in terms of making a space or place around them that’s significant. Things that have remained from the apartheid occupation for example, are how our schools work. After Independence we had this eruption of new buildings, things that strive for a new country and you found people doing buildings to try and remember things like the Herero genocide. In the North Central, Oshakati, we see some very aspirational things happening there. We also talk about the future, what do we see, is there sustainability in the future, are we future proof, are we being resolute.”

“There is also quite an interesting use of materials here in Namibia. People like using things like stonework and so there is a kind of ruggedness to the architecture here. Then also because often we work with limited budgets, the buildings have to be quite inventive but with little money spent, so we don’t have much hi-tech materials and techniques that we use. This means you see architects being inventive with very basic materials.”

“Namibia has really developed a lot and it’s good for people to see what’s going on. I think most people don’t realise there are a lot of things happening in architecture in Namibia. There are architects in the rural areas, and a lot of young new architects doing interesting work. Here we are talking about where Namibian architecture comes from and what makes it a little different from architecture in other countries.”

Explaining what makes architecture in Namibia unique, Nina says “We have this landscape that we relate to, so even in the city our buildings tend to focus on openness and looking at the view. There is also quite an interesting use of materials here in Namibia. People like using things like stonework and so there is a kind of ruggedness to the architecture here. Then also because often we work with limited budgets, the buildings have to be quite inventive but with little money spent, so we don’t have much hi-tech materials and techniques that we use. This means you see architects being inventive with very basic materials.”

The exhibition takes pause to reflect on what makes Namibian architecture, as well as what makes it unique. It is called ‘Namibia: Archaeology of the future-Tomorrow’s landscape‘ and it opens tonight, Thursday 20 April 2017 at 18h00, at the National Art Gallery of  Namibia. It’s a collection of Namibian architects who submitted their buildings for selection in this exhibition and it has already been seen as an exhibition in Italy. Now, for the first time in Namibia, it will open together with the launch of a collectors item book that documents all the components of the exhibition along with a historical view of Namibian architecture and a reflection of what architecture in Namibia has become.

“Everybody’s lives, in a way, are theatre, architecture provides the setting.”

Nina advises all to come out and see for themselves what Namibian architecture is about and what it stands for, yesterday today and tomorrow. “Everybody’s lives, in a way, are theatre, architecture provides the setting” says Nina.

For more information about the exhibition, ‘Namibia: Archaeology of the future-Tomorrow’s landscape’, click here

The exhibition comprises a snapshot of the current work of Namibian architects, placed in the context of history and location. It opens on the 20 April 2017 and will run until the 6 May 2017 in the Main Gallery of the National Art Gallery of Namibia.

The Art Talk for the exhibition is scheduled for the Tuesday 25 April 2017 at 18h00 in the NAGN’s Main Gallery.

Find out more about the Namibian Institute of Architects by clicking here

1 Comment

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     /  Reply

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