N: Within the last few years while working at an NGO, I started a network for mayors and other leaders who want a more equitable and sustainable future for their cities but lack the staffing or special expertise in planning and design. We distributed model policies that were working in other cities, held urban development conferences designed specifically for politicians, and provided implementation workshops for leaders. They were passionate about making their communities function better economically and more responsibly in the face of climate change. I learned a lot by meeting and working with these leaders. But, more importantly, I came to terms with my own cynicism about politics. I witnessed first-hand the positive power of good politics in building great communities. This perspective has made be a much better advocate and even better at analyzing not just the technical but also the political feasibility of urban solutions.
R: One of the first projects I did, a Youth Palace in Bandar Abbas, had quite an influence on me. The project was not implemented according my original design, due to changes in the needs of the client after the completion of the design phase. But seeing that project form from beginning to end, and working with the different stakeholders, was an education in itself. The design itself had some interesting elements in terms of the play between the semi-private and public spaces within the building and the natural points where people could connect and meet. The second project that comes to mind is a school rehabilitation project in Bastak, where I had the privilege of seeing the impact of my work up close. Watching the children move into the finished building and interacting with the structure helped me better understand the stories that people build around architecture and the relationship between the building and its users. I think seeing that up close has really informed my subsequent design process.
F: For me, there was a project in first year design studio of Architecture studies guided by Marina Tabassum, exploring scrap to design a lighting system as an installation. It was an intense exercise to push design limits to explore the making of art as well as a functional object. Another academic work is an extensive study of “Dining in Private” in second year studio – to design a narrow residence in old city and understanding the culture around food. My thesis was on branding through icons – an exercise of buildings becoming icons or representing a place being a landmark during mega events like Expo. Later on, the professional works gave me an opportunity to learn construction details, and site practices. This gave me a new appreciation of the detail that can go into creating an actual structure. The last project in the office I was into while coming for CEPT got tremendous learning to be considered a milestone for getting to know the construction of a building from the scratch. It was also a residential project.