African Design Magazine February 2016 - Page 76

Nina Maritz is principal and founder of Nina Maritz Architects in Windhoek, Namibia. A graduate of the University of Cape Town School of Architecture in 1991, she established her firm seven years later with a focus on environmental sustainability and community projects. She recently sat down with Afritecture and gave this interview. A member of Namibia Institute of Architects, Nina is an author of numerous papers on energy efficiency and sustainability within developing countries, as well as a frequent lecturer on sustainable architecture. Using an approach that is deferential to both the setting and its people, Nina’s work draws not only from her familiarity with environmental and social factors, but also from an ability to delve into the detailed particulars of each place by simultaneously being both vernacular scholar and environmental designer. Utilizing an honest expression of materials and structure, her firm’s growing portfolio elicits a sensitive approach to place and climate, rooted in a deep appreciation of Namibia’s unique history, culture, and ecology. What drew you to architecture? As both my parents were architects, teaching it at university, and frequently hosting visiting architects, I was surrounded by architectural discussion. I tagged along on architectural sightseeing tours for the visitors all over town and used to wander around the intriguing Art Deco era buildings in Port Elizabeth. My parents gave me Maurice Sendak’s “A Little House all of your Own”, with beautiful illustrations. Maybe this led to one of the two favourite games my best friend and I indulged in – performing ‘plays’ and building houses with whatever came to hand – cardboard boxes, blankets over the washing line, and a memorable one using flat stones on steel rods as a roof, which promptly collapsed West facade of Oshakati Regional Study & Resource Centre, Oshana Region, Namibia. Photograph by Dennis Mc Donald 76