Heriot-Watt Dubai student shortlisted for prestigious Architecture competition



BA (Hons) Architecture graduate Sarah Asif, from Heriot-Watt University's Dubai campus, was recently shortlisted for the prestigious Eye Line 2020 competition run by the Royal Institute of British Architects (RIBA). Eye Line is RIBA’s acclaimed annual awards programme for architectural image making, celebrating drawing and rendering skills. The international competition seeks images in two categories – student and practitioner – that brilliantly communicate architecture, in any medium or combination of media. 

The competition theme for 2020 was ‘New Imagined Worlds.’ Sarah’s design project titled ‘Transmuting the Existing Order: Decoding the Coral Bleaching Crisis’ proposes a healthcare facility bridging across Sheikh Zayed Road. Her project responds to the fourth-year studio design, led by Alida Bata, Assistant Professor of Architecture. The design brief was premised on ‘Crisis’ which challenged students to create a more resilient and durable architecture in response to current global issues and threats to progress.

Sarah was primarily motivated by the coral bleaching crisis and took cues from the incredibly complex and interconnected natural system of the coral reef. She applied principles taken from the spatial relationships explored in natural systems to her design project. Testing her design ideas with an equally complex design brief of a specialist healthcare facility including a Stem Cell Research Centre and a Hospice, she carefully and rigorously designed a series of spaces which grew across her site in Sheikh Zayed Road. The project also addresses the importance of balancing natural and man-made systems, disrupting, interconnecting and overlaying the existing order of the Sheikh Zayed Road.

Reflecting on her submission, Sarah Asif commented, “Architecture should lead us to a unique process that serves as the symbiotic link between us and the existing word; just as the fragile coral ecosystem that serves the unseen link between the oceanic ecosystem and outs.” This was the first time that a student from the Dubai campus participated in the prestigious competition.

The Royal Institute of British Architects is a global professional membership body driving excellence in architecture. Their goal is to serve members and society in order to deliver better buildings and places, stronger communities and a sustainable environment. Being inclusive, ethical, environmentally aware and collaborative underpins all that they do.