Sharjah: Two recent graduates from the College of Architecture, Art and Design (CAAD) at American University of Sharjah (AUS) have been awarded the grand prize in architecture for this year’s ‘Inspireli Awards’, said to be the world’s largest global competition in architecture.
Mariam Jacob and Nada Khalaf were among seven architecture students from CAAD to have been shortlisted for the award and were selected by a jury of 500 architects from 99 countries. Their achievement will be celebrated in a virtual ceremony on November 4.
The two winners worked under Associate Professor and AUS alumnus Faysal Tabbarah to create ‘Thin Topographies: Enhancing Food Production in Marrakech’. Their project aims to reinterpret food waste and uncover the potential of discarded organic material by repurposing it for consumption, redefining it for material construction, and encouraging a sustainable lifestyle within Marrakesh, Morocco.
The project was part of the student’s final semester of work at AUS, produced amid the challenges of the sudden transition to remote learning earlier in 2020 because of the coronavirus pandemic. Khalaf said the Inspireli award has allowed her to appreciate the work in a new way. “From day one, CAAD has pushed me to not only meet the standards placed in front of me, but also to consistently strive to exceed my own expectations. Professionally, this award will allow us to connect with the world at a much larger scale, and hopefully act as a stepping stone to new opportunities,” she added.
'Intense' selection process
Jacob said the selection process was “intense”, and included three rounds of consideration with a multinational jury. “Being part of Inspireli has expanded the reach of young graduates and students like myself through their large network and media reach. Being selected as the winner in the Architecture category makes this opportunity even more surreal. This accolade has surely provided me with positive affirmations and I hope that in due time it leads to the opening of multiple doors from a professional standpoint,” she added.
Since her recent graduation, Khalaf has been working as a junior architect at iMaker Group, a Dubai-based architecture and interior design firm, while Jacob is currently participating in ‘Architecture for Humanity’, a placement programme coordinated by the Italian-based Young Architects Academy.