In our podcast, we talk with Matt Wittman. Together with Jody Estes, he founded Wittman Estes, a Seattle based integrated design studio since 2012 focused on the idea that buildings and landscapes can be combined into a unified expression. The firm is best known for innovative housing — single-family to multi-family — that provides a rich experience to the users and is in tune with the natural environment.
Wittman Estes's projects are often published on Livegreenblog because they focus on sustainable solutions without neglecting our inherent need for beauty and a powerful connection to their context. The vibes of their projects are always balanced and respectful versus nature. They show a real understanding of the surroundings they fit in. We spoke with Matt about "the awareness of the outside", rooted in his childhood, growing up on a ranch in close contact with nature.
This "awareness of the outside" also translates in Wittman Estes' approach to urban densification that they call "courtyard urbanism." A solution to densify cities that comes with a human scale, thanks also to new regulations in Seattle that allow building Detached Accessory Dwelling Units (DADU's), aiming for more urban density in people's backyards without building bland towers.
Matt explains his idea of "poetic pragmatism," which is about creating functional and beautiful architecture integrated into its context. Simple constructions, where prefab solutions are welcome. His work is inspired by the modernist tradition of integration with nature and "doing more with less," which enhances the projects' intrinsic sustainability.
Matt received his Master of Architecture in 2003 from UC Berkeley, where he was awarded the Gerson Prize for Design Excellence, and taught architecture and design studios.
His work has won numerous awards. Before founding Wittman Estes, Matt was an architect in the Seattle office of Bohlin Cywinski Jackson.
Matt, a licensed architect in the State of Washington and a LEED accredited professional is currently a visiting critic at the University of Oregon and University of Washington Departments of Architecture.