The Eleventh Annual Berkeley Undergraduate Prize for Architectual Design Excellence 2009
Berkeley Prize 2009

Hajir Alttahir

British by birth and Iraqi by heritage, my outlook is the culmination of disparate ideas and cultures. I was born and raised in London, England. My family, proudly Arab, left their country to pursue university educations only to find they could not return to their homeland as a consequence of political instability. Accidentally displaced, they sought to impart the importance of identity and tradition to my generation. Inadvertently, this has become one of my interests within my studies.

Living in London was an exhilarating experience. The city provided copious opportunities to explore urban occurrences, hosting a wealth of architectural treasures and unique places to discover. Home to a melting pot of races and nationalities, these many iterations of the city fuelled my interest in architecture and urbanism. Through a series of studio projects based in various European countries and self-directed travelling, my fascination in context driven architecture has led me to studying emerging topography this year. It is my belief that design generated by an exhaustive analytical process of the surrounding conditions and cultures provides a more accepted built environment, which successfully encourages interaction and growth within a community.

Whilst I appreciate the artistry of the buildings that grace various journals, I find myself drawn to the innovative ideas used in humanitarian architecture. Perhaps my interest stems from an intent to improve the quality of people’s lives but I feel the resulting interventions are a testimony to what we can achieve, regardless of the restrictions and limited means that typically accompany such projects.

Following the British system, at the end of this academic year, I will enter into a yearlong internship before continuing with the remaining two years of my undergraduate studies. The desire to develop socially responsible and sustainable architecture is something I wish to pursue in my studies and future internships.

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Hajir Alttahir, Manchester School of Architecture, UK
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