“Spatial agency often starts with an understanding of the political implications of a given context, and uses that understanding as a means to creatively transform space for the better, or more particularly to transform the lives of people within that space for the better through close attention to how space affects social and phenomenal relationships”

pg 39 Spatial Agency Other Ways of doing Architecture 2011, Nishat Awan, Tatjana Schneider and Jeremy Till.

CCNIA is a practice of 2 principal architects with a support team of technically astute and able people. We generally have 1 or 2 new graduates or 4th year architectural students in our office as well. We share premises with TKLA (Tarna Klitzner Landscape Architects), and have a close working relationship with them. Both practices are involved with teaching at UCT, in Landscape and Architecture. We see a strong link between the practical and discursive aspects of these disciplines. We have not placed a building without some form of input from Tarna for over 20 years.

There is a need for constant dialogue, with the intention of keeping a critical awareness of what we are up to. We see the necessity of working with others in order to achieve this, and have worked at setting up well-integrated teams from the beginning of projects, and consult broadly. An essential consultant being a Psychologist, in the belief that buildings are only ever as good as the people inhabiting them feel and respond. We also work with and Acoustic Engineer on every project.

Our most recent project (major renovations to St Joseph’s Home for kids with chronic illness) has highlighted probably the most important understanding for us: as spatial practitioners we have the capacity to affect change through the empowerment of others, allowing clients/users to engage and make decisions previously unknown to them. If the process of really engaging with this from the very beginning of a project is developed, it will result in reconfigured, transformative social space.

All the buildings that we have been involved in work around the principles of passive solar design, reusing and harvesting water, use of local materials, harvesting and reuse of materials where possible, and energy efficient lighting.
Cross ventilation remains a huge design consideration in our climate, with the need to heat in winter. Both libraries in Khayelitsha have hydronically heated floor slabs to work areas, and both a retirement Home and a children’s Home have closed system pellet burning systems in place.

“We have naturally taken on quite different roles within the practice, but the common ground is to be involved in work that really matters. That’s because we sacrifice valuable time with our family and friends to work, and so it is of utmost importance that our work is meaningful to ourselves and makes a difference to the lives of others.
…..we are process people; we engage and have fun very seriously and curiously, with all the processes of creating a building, which results in whatever it results in. This is not a flippant statement at all. To practice like this is to keep paying attention to what is going on around us and to keep wondering.”

Excerpt from SAIA article called Woman in Architecture – Nicola Irving and Charlotte Chamberlain

As a collective, we have great capacity to affect the shifts that our cities and communities are capable of. To, as a diverse group, be thinking deeply and talking about current spatial and social issues. We work in a highly integrated way with our teams, which make for a richer more complex placement of our projects.