In summary

  • Salam Sakbani and Risham Waqar have been awarded a commendation in the Australian Institute of Architects Student Ideas Prize at the 2022 Victorian Chapter Idea Gala 

  • The Architects Student Ideas Prize  is a significant acknowledgement of skill and dedication 

  • The brief for the prize was to redesign a residential site for a disability support service using universal design principals to create accessibility and inclusivity 

Swinburne Master of Architecture students Salam Sakbani and Risham Waqar have had their work recognised at the Victorian Idea Gala, where they awarded a commendation for Student Ideas Prize from the Australian Institute of Architects (AIA). 

The prize was an exciting achievement for both students and a meaningful acknowledgment of their dedicated work. 

“When I received the email from the AIA, I was like, ‘Wow!’,” Salam said. 

“It was exciting, I was speechless. ”I didn’t believe it at first, but now I’m going around telling everyone!” Risham said.

Recipe for an architect

“Engineering and creativity together – that's how you get an architect,” Risham said. 

Risham studied a five-year Bachelor of Architecture in Pakistan but always wanted to continue her studies. 

She saw moving to Melbourne as the perfect opportunity. 

Salam had a similar sense after moving to Australia from Syria.

“When I got a job at an architecture firm in Australia, I thought, ‘This is what I want to do, this is the career I want to pursue’,” Salam said.

“But I felt like there was something I needed to add to my experience as an architect.”

Both described being drawn to study at Swinburne because of its welcoming and inclusive culture. 

“The teachers and the staff were very friendly, and I felt like I could get practical experience during my study,” Salam said. 

Salam, left, is looking forward to further exploring the principles human-centered design during her studies, while Risham has recently developed an interest in designing for the architecture of digital places

Design that works for everyone

The challenge of the AIA project was to design a fully accessible residence for disability support service Araluen on an existing site in Eltham, using the principals of universal design. 

The location is a residential space for adults with autism, but the brief required thinking beyond current usage to create a design that would be universally suitable for all potential residents and visitors. 

The project was run through a Master of Architecture studio, and this was the first year the AIA has invited Swinburne to participate. 

“Risham and Salam’s journey was not smooth during the tough Covid time, but they were stubborn about their goals and flexible about their design,” Swinburne architecture lecturer Pantea Alambeigi said. 

“There were moments that they had substantial challenges in this design studio, but their success is the result of their perseverance, learning and sacrificing.”

  • Render of an atmospheric street view of contemporary residential street
    The Heathwren Glades project uses universal design to address the issue of exclusivity in modern architecture
  • Render of contemporary residences, designed for independence and accessibility
    The design choices for the project revolves around inclusivity for people with any form of disability and their right to having a lifestyle of their choosing
  • Render of a road through an urban street lined with trees and cars
    The name Heathwren is derived from the Heathwren bird, which is native to parts of Australia
  • Render of a large triangle pavilion with ivy growing up the legs
    Key features of the design include a luxury sensory garden, visitor and resident parking with adjustments for accessibility, and stunning views
  • Render of wide paths, designed for better accessibility, through luxury living centre
    The vision for the Heathwren Glades is a place of complete luxury lifestyle with a focus on adaptability
  • Render of modern residences with parking next to green grass
    In accordance with universal design principles, the proposal is designed to be modified and adapted for expansions and future needs

Inspiring confidence

Salam and Risham received support and encouragement throughout the project, which helped motivate their creative work. 

“Pantea really believed in us, and she raised my confidence when we were designing,” Salam said.

“At the end of the studio when I looked at the work that I had created, I was surprised at myself, because I wasn't able to do that at the start of the studio,” Risham said.  

Both students are excited to continue their creative journey through the rest of their time at Swinburne and beyond. 

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