Meet Reham Yehia Hussien, Senior Architect at Godwin Austen Johnson. We asked Reham what is it about architecture that appealed to her as a career option and what good design means to her.
Here’s what she had to tell us.
1. What was it that appealed about architecture that made you want to take it up as a career?
I have always been fascinated by the way architects take an idea or a drawing and turn it into a physical reality. My grandfather who was a contractor also influenced my understanding that architecture has to be built. Later I started observing friends who had studied architecture and admired that there is a lot of improvisation in architectural education and this is where it gets to be fun. Unlike science and business students designers are free to do what they think is best in communicating their ideas.
2. What do you think the UAE can teach other countries around the world and what can we learn from other countries in terms of design?
The UAE can teach other countries to give young architects their chance to develop their ideas and build their dreams. However, I think the speed of construction here is too great and we need to learn from other countries to slow down a bit and be more thoughtful about the urban condition.
3. What is it that frustrates and inspires you the most in architectural design today?
The wide spread of online magazines means that copying architectural designs has become all too easy. The fast dissemination of trends makes architecture more and more like fashion design. This is frustrating for any architect who seeks originality and context sensitivity. On the other hand new technologies and advances in material science are an important part of my inspiration.
4. What or who has been the biggest influence on your work?
Richard Meier. I like the simplicity and yet formal sophistication of his buildings.
5. What is most important in architectural design right now?
For me I believe the two key areas of importance are sustainability and BIM. Energy efficiency is an intrinsic part of good design and an area of rapid development as the industry collaborates to reduce the negative impact on the environment and improve the performance of the building. BIM is also gradually transforming our industry as more stakeholders come to realise its potential. The advantage of BIM is the flow of information and the fact that everything is connected.
6. Define good design…
The ancient Roman architect, Vitruvius, once said “utilitas, firmatis, vinustatis” which translates as “utility, strength, and beauty” and have come to be recognised as the cornerstone of any successful act of making. I also believe that good architecture isn’t always about the big killer idea. I consider coordinating a project and the details of the construction of that project integral to a successful design
7. What has been your biggest source of pride to date?
I am proud that I have succeeded in maintaining a healthy life and work balance in a challenging profession. As a working mum, It is often challenging to run both duties effectively but I believe I have the balance right.
8. If you had one piece of advice for aspiring architects, what would that be?
Take architecture seriously as it has a direct effect on human wellbeing. We spend most of our lives in buildings – through architecture you can influence the way people live their lives for the better. Architecture has many other dimensions other than the commercial.