Posted Neubau 1447 klein

Mat­thi­as J. Goe­tz wants to chan­ge our world — and will defi­ni­te­ly succeed

“It becomes natural to fight for the things we love”, Matthias J. Goetz – sustainability-focused architect and model for our latest campaign – explains when asked about why he invests time and effort into taking care of the environment.

It was through his par­ents, bio­lo­gist and che­mi­cal engi­neer, that Matt lear­ned how the co-depen­den­cy bet­ween all living crea­tures on earth is key to balan­cing its com­plex eco­sys­tem. Inspi­red by this, the Bava­ria-nati­ve took flight out into the world: From Euro­pe to South Ame­ri­ca, all the way to India and back. Fol­lowing this jour­ney of glo­be­trot­ting, the 32-year old has sin­ce sett­led down in Hue­s­ca, a Spa­nish small town at the foot of the Pyrenees, whe­re he prac­ti­ces his craft. His defi­ni­ti­on of suc­cess? When you can focus on what you are best at while simul­ta­ne­ous­ly fol­lowing a holistic, sus­tainab­le approach.”
Fol­lowing our shoot in Bar­ce­lo­na, we had a chat with Mat­thi­as and had him share the chan­ges he wis­hes to see in the world, his con­tri­bu­ti­on and what moti­va­ted him to get star­ted in the first place.

How must one pic­tu­re sus­taina­bi­li­ty-focu­sed archi­tec­tu­re? How does it dis­tin­guish its­elf from average architecture?

Star­ting with the second ques­ti­on, I would like to chal­len­ge the term average archi­tec­tu­re”. When we look at the histo­ry of archi­tec­tu­re we will find that for most of the time buil­dings were pret­ty sus­tainab­le. Back in the day for the most part local buil­ding mate­ri­als were used and the main ener­gy source for hea­ting was wood. This was done pri­ma­ri­ly out of neces­si­ty, but it also meant that the archi­tec­tu­re ten­ded to be lar­ge­ly sus­tainab­le. In the so-cal­led deve­lo­ped world this chan­ged with the dis­co­very of fos­sil fuels and the indus­tri­al revo­lu­ti­on a litt­le more than 200 years ago. Mea­ning that the histo­ry of non-sus­tainab­le buil­dings is very young and also has not even reached every cor­ner of the world yet. So pro­bab­ly the average archi­tec­tu­re” for a high per­cen­ta­ge of the world’s popu­la­ti­on is still sus­tainab­le com­pa­red to our glass pala­ces in the wes­tern world. Having said that, I would say that sus­taina­bi­li­ty-focu­sed archi­tec­tu­re takes into account that some resour­ces on pla­net earth are limi­ted or even hazar­dous for us and future genera­ti­ons. Hence rene­wa­ble resour­ces and car­bon neu­tral ener­gy play an important role in this field.

What moti­va­ted you to go into the field you’re in?

For me working in sus­tainab­le deve­lo­p­ment makes kind of intui­ti­ve sen­se. Why would I be inte­res­ted in working in a field that is doo­med to fail in the long run? Non-sus­tainab­le archi­tec­tu­re is defi­ni­te­ly not the future, as the word its­elf alrea­dy implies.

Also I like to chal­len­ge the way we do things. I have never iden­ti­fied with peop­le who would say, or think We do it this way, becau­se we have always done it this way.” This approach is way too easy and lacks any sen­se of inno­va­ti­on or ima­gi­na­ti­on. Do we want to be heroes in the eyes of our child­ren and grand­child­ren or do we want to be remem­be­red as the ego­ma­niac genera­ti­ons that par­tied on pla­net earth as if the­re was no tomorrow?

Final­ly, I would say that my main moti­va­ti­on is that I love human­kind and pla­net earth with all of its diver­se flo­ra and fau­na, as chee­sy as that might sound. It would be gre­at if our spe­ci­es could stay a litt­le lon­ger on this pale blue dot spin­ning through space, and pre­ser­ve the things of beau­ty on it.

What would you say might’ve been your big­gest accom­plish­ment in this field? How have you made your mark?

That is a tough one, sin­ce I do not tend to look back a lot, in gene­ral more focu­sing on the marks that I want to make in the future. But on a per­so­nal level I would say that my visi­on hel­ped a few busi­ness plans and initia­ti­ves in the past to kick-off and that my lack of fear to fail hel­ped us inno­va­te in some of our archi­tec­tu­ral pro­jects in Ger­ma­ny and Chile.

On a big­ger sca­le – in terms of impact in the field of sus­taina­bi­li­ty – I’m qui­te proud of what we have achie­ved with the Ele­phant Pod­cast over the last two years, whe­re we mana­ged to spread cli­ma­te chan­ge awa­reness to an inter­na­tio­nal audi­ence through inter­views with lea­ding thin­kers, experts, jour­na­lists and scientists.

I also have gre­at hope that our soft­ware pro­ject cal­led CAA­LA, which brings tog­e­ther archi­tec­tu­ral design and para­metric life-cycle ana­ly­sis in at a very ear­ly sta­ge, will chan­ge the way we will deve­lop buil­dings in the future. If the soft­ware works out as we envi­si­on it, and suc­cess­ful­ly brings life-cycle con­si­de­ra­ti­ons to the first sta­ges of archi­tec­tu­ral design, non-sus­tainab­le archi­tec­tu­re will only appe­ar in histo­ry books in a few deca­des from now.

As can be seen on the pages of our look book you’re also a model – what chan­ge would you like to see in the fashion and beau­ty indus­try when it comes to sustainability?

The­re are actual­ly a lot of simi­la­ri­ties bet­ween the fashion and beau­ty indus­try and archi­tec­tu­re. For instance, crea­ting some­thing aes­the­ti­cal appe­aling is argu­ab­ly one of the key dri­vers in tho­se fiel­ds. When it comes to sus­taina­bi­li­ty in fashion I often hear the myth, that you can eit­her have gre­at design or a sus­tainab­le pro­duct. This is sim­ply not true and the­re are count­less examp­les that pro­ve this state­ment wrong. In fact, with the dis­po­sable cul­tu­re, and fast fashion that domi­na­tes so much of the indus­try at the moment, you could even say the oppo­si­te is true, lea­ding us to con­su­me more and more clothes and access­ories which sim­ply do not last, and weren’t desi­gned to last.

I would like to see peop­le working in tho­se indus­tries chal­len­ge them­sel­ves more, to look at the who­le life-cycle of their pro­ducts and add sus­taina­bi­li­ty as a basic para­me­ter. If it is pos­si­ble for this genera­ti­on to accept tough chal­len­ges in phy­si­cal work­outs and clean eating, it should surely be pos­si­ble to set the bars hig­her in our pro­fes­sio­nal lives as well. Also it would be gre­at if we could move back from quan­ti­ty to qua­li­ty. Less is more.

In many ways, neu­bau eye­we­ar is about com­bi­ning con­scious­ness and style. Whe­re would you say does this shim­mer through wit­hin this cam­pai­gn and the brand as a who­le? So, in your opi­ni­on, whe­re and how does neu­bau suc­ceed in terms of sustainability?

I belie­ve the best part about the con­scious­ness cam­pai­gn of neu­bau eye­we­ar is that the sus­taina­bi­li­ty topic is actual­ly not obvious­ly shim­me­ring through when you look at the pro­duct. When I saw glas­ses desi­gned by neu­bau eye­we­ar for the first time, it was the style and qua­li­ty that caught my atten­ti­on. I was actual­ly not awa­re that sus­taina­bi­li­ty was a dri­ving fac­tor behind the pro­duct. This is the defi­ni­ti­on of suc­cess for me, when you can still focus on what you are best at – designing gre­at glas­ses in this case – while fol­lowing a holistic sus­tainab­le approach.

What are your favo­ri­te pla­ces in Spain — archi­tec­tu­re-wise — and why?

That was a big coin­ci­dence during the neu­bau eye­we­ar cam­pai­gn shoo­ting at the Caixa­Fo­rum Bar­ce­lo­na. My favo­ri­te spot is right next to it, the Bar­ce­lo­na pavi­li­on by Mies van der Rohe. I visit the pavi­li­on several times a year and I always lea­ve inspi­red and moti­va­ted to beco­me a bet­ter architect.

I would also say that Bar­ce­lo­na in gene­ral is my favo­ri­te city in Spain, becau­se it is such a color­ful and play­ful place, with the spi­rit of Gau­di around every cor­ner. May­be it is becau­se my wife is from here, but it real­ly feels like a gene­ral­ly posi­ti­ve place to me. For archi­tec­tu­ral lovers com­ing to Bar­ce­lo­na I would also recom­mend to look at the works of Bofill and RCR Arqui­tec­tes, but the­re are many more things to discover.

Whe­re would you like to go? What country/​city/​building would you like to visit/​see in person?

The­re are too many pla­ces and buil­dings, which I would like to visit to name them all. Gene­ral­ly spea­king I’m inte­res­ted in pla­ces whe­re I’m not fami­li­ar with the local cul­tu­re yet. Dif­fe­rent approa­ches to life often lead to dif­fe­rent approa­ches in design and archi­tec­tu­re and I find that to be qui­te fascinating.

I’m thin­king about pla­ces like Asta­na (Kazakh­stan), Tehe­ran (Iran) or Detroit (USA) to just give a few examples.

Accord­ing to your résu­mé, one might say you’re gene­ral­ly con­cer­ned about envi­ron­men­tal issu­es — whe­re does that stir from?

I belie­ve that it was the influ­ence of my par­ents and their pas­si­ons which set me on this track of caring for our envi­ron­ment. My mother is a bio­lo­gist and my father is a che­mi­cal engi­neer who actual­ly also ori­gi­nal­ly wan­ted to beco­me a bio­lo­gist. When I was litt­le we would walk in natu­re tog­e­ther and they would always take the time to exp­lain to me how the dif­fe­rent plants and ani­mals are depen­dent on each other, while also making me awa­re of which actions could poten­ti­al­ly harm our ecosystems.

Natu­re felt like a big the­me park to me and I was espe­cial­ly fasci­na­ted by the trans­for­ma­ti­on of cater­pil­lars into but­ter­flies – a fasci­na­ti­on that remains with me up to the pre­sent day. I guess it comes natu­ral to fight for things that you love. At the same time I have to admit that I never mana­ged to be real­ly radi­cal in lea­ding a sus­tainab­le life­style. The­re are still tons of things that I could chan­ge about my own life that would bene­fit the envi­ron­ment, star­ting with fly­ing less for examp­le. I’m try­ing hard to lead a more sus­tainab­le life, but I do not want to sell mys­elf as the green knight here.

Are the­re sus­taina­bi­li­ty-enga­ged peop­le or brands you look up to or feel inspi­red by?

In our Ele­phant Pod­cast we spo­ke to qui­te a num­ber of peop­le that I tru­ly look up to, like Nao­mi Klein, Bill McKib­ben and Alan Rus­brid­ger. It’s encou­ra­ging becau­se in almost every field you will find an inspi­ring sus­taina­bi­li­ty-enga­ged per­son, becau­se it tru­ly is a topic that knows no bor­ders. We also spo­ke to Green­peace acti­vists and NASA astro­nauts and sci­en­tists that all had exci­ting sto­ries to tell. I would encou­ra­ge inte­res­ted rea­ders to fol­low our pod­cast as it fea­tures inter­views with a who­le bunch of inspi­ring sus­taina­bi­li­ty-enga­ged peop­le from a diver­se ran­ge of backgrounds.

When it comes to brands the first name that comes to my mind is PATA­GO­NIA. I was real­ly impres­sed by their approach to encou­ra­ge their cli­ents to repair old gear ins­tead of buy­ing some­thing new. They seem to ask them­sel­ves the right ques­ti­ons and their pro­ducts are still gre­at and meant to last. I’ve tra­vel­led with one of their water­pro­of bags for many years.

If you’re not at work or mode­ling, what do you like to do in your spa­re time?

The­re are so many things that it would be ridi­cu­lous to name them all, espe­cial­ly becau­se every year I find some­thing new that exci­tes me. Last year I dedi­ca­ted my wee­kends to a gli­ding club Aka­flieg Ber­lin”, becau­se I always drea­med of beco­m­ing a pilot and gli­ding is qui­te a sus­tainab­le way to get up in the air. Here in Hue­s­ca my pos­si­bi­li­ties are limi­ted com­pa­red to Ber­lin and I’m going back to my roots. I was just accep­ted by a local bas­ket­ball club Juventud Osca” and I’m working out hard to keep up with the play­ers who are 8 – 10 years youn­ger than me. On the wee­kends my wife and I are most­ly going hiking in the Pyrenees. It is a small town life we are living here.

Whe­re do you see yourself and the world 10 years from now?

I envi­si­on a sce­n­a­rio whe­re in 10 years from now, the first super­hu­man AI will be pre­sen­ted to the world. One of the first advices the super­hu­man AI will have for us will be to not des­troy our own habi­tat, which will come as a sur­pri­se for many. Nevertheless, human­kind will fol­low the advice, sin­ce it is not a human being stu­dy­ing this field for deca­des tel­ling us to take care of our pla­net, but some­thing super­na­tu­ral that can fore­see things we could just never under­stand (perhaps becau­se we are too inves­ted in the status-quo).

As for me, it’s hard to say fore­s­u­re if archi­tects are still nee­ded when super­hu­man AIs are around, but I hope that I’ll be con­ti­nuing to be enjoy­ing life, spen­ding it with the peop­le I love, and in my pro­fes­sio­nal life doing my best in any small ways I can, to con­tri­bu­te posi­tively to socie­ty, sus­tainab­le archi­tec­tu­re, and the man­ner in which we live in the planet.

03 Apr. 2018 · NEUBAU EYEWEAR
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