The Next Generation of Architects: Part 1

By July 29, 20212021
GAJ employees
Anu Francis Aleeya Yoosuf

Today’s design graduates want to work in an environment where they can add value and where their voices can be heard. They value diversity and are drawn to companies who seek to engage them in a variety of tasks. We sat down to talk to some of our young new recruits recently to find out why they chose architecture as a career and what inspires them.

In this first part we spoke to assistant architect Anu Francis and intern Aleeya Yoosuf.

  1. What was it that appealed about architecture that made you want to take it up as a career?

Anu Francis: Taking up architecture as a career, while so many other options existed, was clearly driven by passion for me. I was always fascinated by the fact that the quality of a space really brings about a change in our mood as we react to our surroundings. And I thought it would be really interesting to be part of that process and create environments that people feel are stimulating.

Aleeya Yoosuf: I was always interested in the construction industry as a child, especially structural engineering inspired by my mother. When I was in the eighth grade I discovered architecture and almost immediately wanted to be an architect. The aspect of architecture being an amalgamation of science and art and many other things definitely made it stand out to me as a career choice. The power it holds in framing a city, whether it be through the visual appeal of the skyline or the nature of its resident experience is quite impactful.

  • What are the challenges and what inspires you the most in architecture today?

AF: Buildings aren’t built by architects, they are built by contractors based on a set of instructions provided by us. This means the instructions must be good and, just as important, easy to understand. Equally contractors have to adhere to these instruction otherwise it affects the build quality and the end product wouldn’t replicate the original design. We are always in search of new creation, and with modern technologies, building techniques and materials, it always inspires us to do more. To create something out of the box.

AY: Anything practised without genuine intention can be hard to be fulfilling and won’t generate the potential the field has to offer. To name a few, it frustrates me to see buildings that are built carelessly and which exploit materials, land and labour. I also don’t like to see structures built without regard to the environment as well as being tone deaf to the actual requirements of the project and the essence of the site. On the other hand, seeing the vast possibilities that are now achievable as a result of research on creative, efficient, and sustainable building techniques with addition to design generation with artificial intelligence has led to some great designs being built -with notes and inspiration from history as a reference, is truly inspiring.

  • What or who has been the biggest influence on your work?

AF: Living in the UAE, and seeing the best of the best architecture styles, I have always been influenced by the design approach in this country. The architecture styles seen across the emirate are extensive. It is not limited to a single style.

AY: My designs are solely influenced by user experience and site assets, utilising what the site has to offer and creating an environment that allows users to experience it from both standard and alternative perspectives. Referring to the works of innovative designers such as Le Corbusier, Zaha Hadid, and Sanjay Puri, to name a few is to understand the potential of space planning, is very valuable for beginners like me in this profession.

  • Define good design…

AF: A good design is more than feel-good aesthetics. It should have a story to tell and it should be able to communicate to others. A good design should speak for its function. Building designs are constantly changing to include new trends, but a good design will always be able to include new changes in a way that is timeless.

AY: The one parameter that determines a good design is its foundation – the user experience. A design that completely involves its users and utilises, but not exploits, the site assets to their maximum ethical potential can be called a good design.