What were you doing before you started studying at the RCA?
I was in the Netherlands where I worked for three years in an architectural office Zwarts & Jansma Architects, which specialises in infrastructure and leisure architecture. I worked on projects of various scales from bridges to dams and stadiums across Europe, the Middle East and Asia. Before that, I studied a five-year degree in Architectural Engineering in the UAE.
I have always felt that it did not fulfil my ambitions and interests. After working in the industry it was very clear to me that I needed to distance myself from what I know and challenge myself. What attracted me to the Architecture programme at the RCA specifically is that I found the different architectural design studios raise very relevant and important questions that challenge the conventional responsibilities of the architect today.
Can you describe what it’s like studying at the RCA — what’s a typical day like?
I like to get in early, at around 8.00 am, to start working while the studio is still quiet. Most of my time is spent in the studio – even weekends. In the first year we had more on our plate, we were a lot busier with seminars, workshops and lectures, whereas in the second year we are mostly focused on our own projects.
We usually meet up with our tutors once or twice a week for around 35–45 minutes. The rest of our time is spent working independently. Having our own desk space in the studio not only makes it very easy and comfortable to work in the College, but also provides many opportunities to discuss and exchange ideas with other students, offering a rich studio culture.
Are there any particular projects that you've really enjoyed working on?
The studio that I’m in is ADS7: Ecologies of Existence: The Architecture of Collective Equipment. The project I’m working on right now is a real eye-opener. My thesis examines projects of modernity and subjectivity production in Iran, pre- and post-revolution, highlighting the role of the seemingly banal everyday objects and protocols which are at the heart of the dispute, in contrast to the monumental events and semiotic operations. My research is presented in a form of historic archive of the devices that narrates a pattern in history of an overlooked level where projects of modernity are deployed.
How has your work or thinking developed while you have been at the RCA?
My previous academic and professional training was in the technical aspects of architecture, so during the first year I spent a lot of the time lost, trying to break through the way I was trained to think. Being constantly challenged means you are always out of your comfort zone which tends to force you to have to deal with vulnerable areas of your project and your skills in general. This eventually taught me how to turn my weaknesses into a productive outcome.
What have you found to be the main differences between your expectation of studying at the RCA and the reality?
I mainly expected this experience to help me develop my architectural skills, however it has given me much more than just that. It has transformed the way I think as an individual as well as an architect and helped me make decisions about my future career.
What have you found most rewarding about your time at the RCA?
The best thing to come out of this is pushing my limits – without the RCA I would not have found out what my potential is.
What are your plans for this year, and what do you intend to do after you graduate?
My project is still in the research phase at the moment, so I want to be happy with the final outcome. Since starting at the RCA I’ve become very interested in research – so when I graduate I would like to work within the research field, or pursue a research degree.
Do you have any advice for students applying?
Come in with the most open mind. Don’t be afraid to pursue your interests. If you are excited and relentless about your work, this will reflect on what you do and get people on board.
"I mainly expected this experience to help me develop my architectural skills, however it has given me much more than just that. It has transformed the way I think as an individual as well as an architect and helped me make decisions about my future career."