LAHORE    -   Umamah Khalid is a budding architect who is working to change the way people see buildings. This young and talented woman is a BNU graduate who is the brains behind the brand ‘Architects Indesign’.

In conversation with The Nation, she speaks about the challenges architecture faces in Pakistan. 

What are the challenges you faced while you were training?

The challenges dogging the world of architecture are not insurmountable. We have to face physical challenges such as dealing with contractors and laborers who are always trying to do everything their own way. Another challenge is for a woman to make sure her “orders” are followed. In our society men do not like taking instructions from a woman! Very often I have to work through the night to get the job done, which leads to serious sleep deprivation. Like most creative people, architects also suffer from an artist’s block. It takes a lot of time to come out of it.

Being a woman, did you face any discrimination?

Women face discrimination all the time. But I try to overcome such situations by trying to ignore them so that it does not affect my productivity.

What are the special challenges you face while designing an office or residence?

Residences are very personal spaces so we have to keep in mind the personalities and emotions of people inhabiting those places. Light is a central aspect for me while designing any space. So, I always keep that in mind. How bright and airy a space is important to me. I think that is the most challenging part. Human satisfaction through aesthetics cannot be achieved easily.

What do you feel is the greatest challenge when it comes to designing for environmental sustainability?

The biggest challenge modern architecture faces is environmental sustainability.Basically what it means is that the material used is not toxic and is easily bio degradable.

What is the worst client experience that you had?

I designed a house for somebody once after continuously asking for their choices. They always replied that they are good with whatever I design for them. I worked hard to make that project and when I showed it to them they started giving their suggestions. Eventually, they got their own design made which they had in mind from the beginning; which was opposite to what I had designed.

 All my hard work which I had prepared painstakingly in the beginning, was wasted.

 Who inspired you? Any local Pakistani architect or foreign?

Mies Van Der Rohe is the most influential foreign architect which I look up to and he is the guru of spaces according to me.

What is your ultimate goal when it comes to your work? What do you want to be remembered for?

I want to be remembered for my unique skill of design. I believe in the statement ‘more is more’ and that is how I design my stuff. I want the buildings to speak about it on their own.

Any advice for aspiring architects?

The architecture will take you places you cannot imagine. It will prove to be the most challenging, rewarding, frustrating, vulnerable, inspiring and galvanizing thing you will do. Architecture can be – should be – one of the most intimate of professions.