NAMIBIA | ARCHAEOLOGY OF THE FUTURE
TOMORROW’S ARCHITECTURAL LANDSCAPE
The title of the exhibition was born when Italian architect Cinzia Abbate visited the Twyfelfontein Visitors’ Centre, where she appreciated how a contemporary building could be inseparable from its context, ready to dissolve into its environment, thus becoming the archaeology of the future.
Cinzia introduced Namibian architect Nina Maritz to Livio Sacchi in 2015, then president of the OAR (the Rome and Province Chamber of Architects), who expressed an interest in supporting an architectural exchange between Namibia and Italy. Nina initiated a work group of interested members of the architectural community in Namibia, who compiled a synopsis of Namibian architecture, through research and the participation of members of the Namibia Institute of Architects who contributed project material.
Since Independence, Namibian architects have been consistently busy with the rapid development of the country. The past twenty-six years have been boom years for the architectural profession, which saw the provision of ample work through Government development and generous budgets leaning to the luxurious for many buildings. The 50th anniversary exhibition of the Namibia Institute of Architects in 2002 portrayed this architectural scenario. Since then, the pace of development in the country has rarely given architects the chance to reflect on their work and its influence in shaping the environment.
The exhibition comprises a snapshot of the current work of Namibian architects, placed in the context of history and location. It covers the influences of landscape, starting with the ancient geology of the country and travels through the different areas of coast, hinterland, north and south. It considers cultural and material influences and ponders whether there can be a contemporary Namibian style. It looks at the most recent projects placed in urban and rural situations, and zooms in onto urban development in Windhoek. Faced with the legacy of apartheid and rapid urbanisation, the capital city is a microcosm of Namibian society, with architecture playing a role in various socio-economic spheres, from rich to poor, from private to public.
Since this exhibition was first presented in 2016 at the Casa dell’Architettura in Rome, the economic situation in Namibia has changed, forcing architects to question their relevance in society and their need to adapt. The contradictory permanence of architecture in the consumerist age and in the wider context of sustainability raises further questions. How can architects create more integrated solutions towards a more coherent vision of the future? This exhibition provides the opportunity to reflect on the past, to contemplate these questions, and to imagine how the architecture of today forms tomorrow’s architectural landscape.