This journey was one of my best learning experiences, and in light of my project’s success, I am even more willing and motivated to take up new challenges that would serve to benefit the environment, our common home.
Tell us a bit more about yourself.
I graduated with the highest distinction in Architecture from Notre Dame University-Louaize (NDU) in spring 2017. My thirst for knowledge and my dedication to study helped me secure a 3.81/4.00 GPA average and graduate as the first-ranked student for 2017 across the three campuses. I have always been passionate about creating innovative and ambitious designs. With five years of academic experience, I was able to attain extensive theoretical knowledge and problem-solving skills as well as to sharpen my critical-thinking to pursue my career.
Please give us more details about your winning project.
My project was titled, ‘Rethinking Informality: Hay El-Tanak, Wata El-Mousaitbeh.’ I developed the concept based on the fact that every year slums continue to expand across Beirut. Hay el-Tanak, Wata el-Mousaytbeh is an exceptional area, because it grew to house rural migrants and is considered as one of the city’s poorest slums. My project, therefore, aimed to support slum dwellers and lead them through an ‘unslumming’ process toward recovery, which will occur gradually based on adaptable architecture. The first phase will boost the slum’s economic status by inserting mixed-use architecture, as a social and economic catalyst. The second phase will help slum dwellers improve their living conditions through the implementation of a new foundation that embraces its chaotic past while engaging in innovative mixed- urban typologies.
Can you walk us through your experience in a few words? What does it feel like to have won?
To be honest, the journey toward the completing my project and consequently toward receiving the award was difficult. There were many challenges I had to face and I had to put in much effort right from the start when the project was simply just an idea. The challenges compounded when I got to the stage of analyzing and understanding the site, and finally to completing it. I was not alone though; I had my main advisors who stood by my side and supported me throughout. Looking back now, all the tough times have been erased, and I am happy to say that I made it! It is a great honor for me to have won the award, especially since I was competing against all the universities in Lebanon, and I am proud of what I achieved.
What role did NDU play and what did you gain from this experience?
I could not have succeeded without NDU’s help. First, my main advisor along with all other senior advisors supported me extensively and always motivated me to give more and produce more inspiring outcomes. I am proud to say they are more like family to me now. Despite all the odds, they were certain that I would succeed. Second, and most important, NDU professors had so much faith and trust in me to nominate me for this award, and they presented me with a prestigious platform where I could exhibit my project. So, I’m ever so grateful to each person who made this triumph possible.