Design is so ingrained in Takbir Fatima, that most of her hobbies and activities are related to the profession itself. Travelling and participating in adventure sports aside, she loves to solve puzzles, and has even designed them. “There’s no getting away from (being) a designer!” says the 34-year-old architect who sees her profession more as a calling than work. “Once you find your calling, it will fulfill you like no vacation ever can,” is the mantra she lives by.
At age six itself, she began drawing plans of houses, moving from spaces that existed to ones from her imagination. Growing up, she also developed a love for poetry and computer programming. “I was into deconstructing poetry and also learning the basics in programming, and I think that leads to design thinking as well,” says the alumnus of CSIIT School of Architecture & Planning (affiliated to JNAFAU, Hyderabad).
Fatima’s practice DesignAware had a very organic start. As a Master’s student at the Architectural Association in London in 2011, she was working on a digital prototyping equipment when she started to design after hours, creating lighting, furniture and wearables. “After a year or so of graduating, I began to work on DesignAware full-time. It was born of a desire to raise awareness through design,” she shares. With offices now in Hyderabad and Dubai, the studio enthusiastically takes up every type of project of varying topography, including pro-bono work.
The Hilltop School (which has been named Bright Horizon Academy) is one of Fatima’s most significant works so far. A “dream project,” the structure has innovative concepts that were designed keeping in mind the principles of daylighting, passive cooling, safety and maintenance in the future life of the building. It has received a silver rating from the Indian Green Building Council. “This was our first project, and we are still closely associated with the school, including running an annual crowdfunding campaign to collect funds for it – called #MakeProgressPossible.”
The principles and the rigours of iterative design should always take precedence, rather than allowing digital tools to take over the design process, according to Fatima. “I see a lot of mimicking of predefined design styles as opposed to problem-solving, which is actually what real design is,” says the young architect who finds paper to be the best design tool – not just for sketching, but to make quick models in 3D too.