Summer Scholar Highlight Series with Mariya Anwar

What has been a highlight of your Summer Scholar experience so far?

The Summer Scholar program has been an immensely enriching experience, providing me with valuable opportunities to learn from highly skilled individuals engaged in diverse projects. Among the various experiences, one stands out as the highlight of my time as a Summer Scholar: the privilege of collaborating with the non-profit organization, Storefront for Community Design, and contributing to the creation of an interactive map.

Working on the main community map allowed me to leverage and showcase my illustration skills. It was a surreal experience to witness my work making a meaningful impact on the project. Additionally, I was fortunate to participate in the organization's annual community day, an event that proved to be remarkably successful. Being actively involved in this hands-on occasion, where children and families came together to build elements of a neighborhood, reaffirmed my passion for community-driven projects.

Interacting with the local community members who were instrumental in organizing the event provided valuable insights and deepened my understanding of their needs and aspirations. The appreciation and recognition I received from professionals and locals for my creative contributions further boosted my confidence in my abilities as an illustrator.

In essence, this experience was profoundly special to me, as it allowed me to grow both professionally and personally. I am truly grateful for the Summer Scholar program and the opportunity it afforded me to be part of a project that positively impacts the community while celebrating and acknowledging my artistic style.


Interactive community map created for the Storefront for Community Design community day



In addition to the aforementioned experiences, the site trip to Virginia Beach proved to be an invaluable opportunity. Engaging with civic leaders and members of the local community who generously shared their stories and experiences provided me with profound insights into the identity and essence of the city. This encounter significantly enriched my research process, as it allowed me to adopt a more community-oriented approach to my work.

Furthermore, the trip to Richmond was equally enlightening and adventurous. Exploring the city, embarking on a hike along the James River, and navigating the Pipeline proved to be thrilling and challenging endeavors. These experiences not only broadened my horizons but also contributed to my personal and professional growth.


Can you share any valuable lessons you have learned?

During my internship, I had the opportunity to gain valuable professional insights, particularly regarding the essence of every design project. I came to understand that the success of a project is less about the designer's aspirations and more about catering to the needs and desires of the people and the community it serves. Whether it involves revitalization or redefining a space or neighborhood, our role as designers is akin to that of engineers presenting a vision. However, the true essence and vitality of the project stem from the community itself. They form the critical entity or seed around which the design must be crafted, providing a framework for their continued growth and prosperity in unison.

Engaging in meaningful conversations with the Research team heads, I acquired valuable skills in staying creative and productive while managing multiple projects and attending numerous meetings. Hanbury, as a community of designers and professionals, fosters a culture of a fun work environment, allowing scholars like myself the freedom to explore and curate exceptional works. The firm not only appreciates innovative ideas but also empowers and supports avant-garde concepts, thus strengthening one's creative skillset. This atmosphere enabled me to explore and nurture my artistic side, which I expressed through interactive graphics.

Participating in LiveNorfolk and AIA events, thoughtfully organized by Hanbury, provided me with an excellent platform to network with individuals from diverse interdisciplinary backgrounds. On a personal level, I gained valuable experience in delivering and presenting ideas to design professionals, while also learning the importance of achieving a work-life balance, which I believe is essential for every individual's well-being.



How has your understanding of the design process evolved throughout your internship?

Engaging in a research project with a rich historical background has been a profoundly enlightening experience, providing me with valuable insights into studying diverse aspects and applying them cohesively to achieve a holistic design. Leveraging my background in Architecture and Urban Design, this project not only offered the perfect opportunity to apply my skills at both small and urban scales but also allowed me to bridge the gap between theoretical concepts and pragmatic approaches.

The project's potential for impactful outcomes became evident as I delved deeper into understanding the culture and ideology of the community residing in the area of study. This understanding further honed my design skills, enabling me to adapt and apply my ideas in real-world scenarios. Given its focus on an urban scale, identifying unique conditions and typologies of the spaces became a crucial aspect of the project. This process facilitated the development of a comprehensive strategy to design toolkits tailored to specific zones, ensuring maximum effectiveness for the people and community of that place.


This design-oriented project also provided me with a valuable opportunity to overcome the challenges of formulating diverse program and activities diagrammatically. Through robust discussions with my co-interns, we collectively arrived at well-informed decisions. The process of cracking this puzzle was immensely rewarding, and I took pride in my ability to accomplish it, a moment of self-appreciation that I attribute to the project.

In the following diagram, you will find a representation that effectively translates the idea of showcasing program and phasing in a graphical manner. The concept behind this visualization was to depict the creative minds of all the summer scholars, hailing from diverse backgrounds, gathered around a board, actively engaged in conversations and providing valuable suggestions. The goal was to create Program and Phasing Board that is Interactive and Engaging. Working on this concept and bringing it to life through graphics was an immensely enjoyable experience for me. I am pleased to share this glimpse of our collaborative effort.

Overall, this research endeavor has been a transformative journey, empowering me to evolve as a skilled designer capable of addressing complex challenges and creating solutions that resonate with the people and spaces involved.


What excites you the most about our industry?

In the creative realm, our abilities as designers are boundless—we have the capacity to envision, imagine, and bring our ideas to life through a plethora of software and digital platforms. This ever-evolving field continuously presents opportunities for growth and improvement.

As an artist, the allure of belonging to this industry lies in its capacity to animate spaces, infuse tangible environments with life, and extend beyond mere building design. It offers a multitude of avenues to explore, ranging from sketch artistry to tattoo artistry, enabling us to diversify our skills and embrace various artistic expressions.

The boundless potential of our industry never fails to captivate me. There are endless realms to explore and create, and our journey knows no limits. As designers, we are privileged to tread diverse paths, stepping into the shoes of different individuals, understanding their lifestyles, and utilizing these observations to define and craft spaces that are not only interactive and inviting but also attuned to the surrounding climate.

Ultimately, the design industry keeps us grounded, inspiring us to continuously push our boundaries and create meaningful, participatory spaces that resonate with people on a deeper level. It is a profession that nurtures our innate curiosity and rewards us with the fulfillment of turning visions into tangible reality.


Who should everyone in the industry be following?

There are certainly a number of artists and talent that float around us. Being in this innovative era, we are surrounded by an abundance of artists and talent, thanks to social media platforms that not only provide avenues for creative expression but also offer valuable opportunities to discover and learn from emerging talents. 

I feel my personal favorite is ZHA (Zaha Hadid Architects) as I draw a lot of inspiration from her work. Her unique design language and dedication to innovation have had a profound impact on the architectural world. Her works are known for groundbreaking and futuristic designs that challenge traditional architectural norms. What I find fascinating about ZHA is that they continuously push the boundaries of form, structure, and materials, creating visually striking and iconic buildings that capture the imagination. For enthusiasts of parametric architecture, delving into Zaha Hadid's projects would undoubtedly be worth the effort.

I also highly admire the work of Paul Cocksedge, which I highly recommend as a source of inspiration for everyone to follow. He is a British designer known for his innovative and creative work in various fields, including product design, architecture, and public installations. He is an emerging artist whose designs often blend functionality with artistic expression, pushing the boundaries of materials and technology. He has also designed innovative lighting installations, furniture pieces, and public art installations, all characterized by their imaginative and thought-provoking nature.

Bourrasque light installation and Please Be Seated are among the most successful and iconic works that I strongly recommend everyone to explore.

In addition to the mentioned architects, I personally hold Jan Gehl in high regard whose primary goal is focused towards improving the quality of Urban Life by re-orienting city design towards the pedestrian and cyclist. Chris Precht, an Austrian architect known for his affinity for using timber in his projects, showcases a mastery of woodwork construction technology and 100 Architects, a Shanghai-based studio that prides itself on following the convention of being unconventional and China's Pioneers of Functional Urban Art.


What is a building you'd like to visit that you haven't yet?

Having a flair to explore parametric architecture, I am constantly in awe of Antoni Gaudi’s extraordinary work and it is my most innate desire to visit La Sagrada Familia, Barcelona someday. This is one of his most remarkable works that is globally celebrated and whose iconic exterior is marked by a cluster of intricate spires and highly detailed sculptural depictions of the life of Jesus Christ, features 56 columns branching into a ceiling full of kaleidoscopic shapes and stained-glass windows in electric blue, green, red, and orange hues. Having the opportunity to personally capture this spatial experience and witness his astounding work is something I genuinely anticipate with great excitement.


Tell us about a memorable experience where design or architecture played a pivotal role.

One of the most significant and memorable moments in my academic journey occurred during my last year in the Fall semester. At that time, I was tasked with studying multiple sites and formulating a design solution for an urban-scale project, which marked a pivotal point in my transition as a designer. This project allowed me to seamlessly integrate my skills from both architecture and urban designing perspectives, contributing to my growth and development in the field.




If you were not studying architecture, what alternative career path would you pursue?

If I were not studying architecture, my passion for fashion would have led me to attend a Fashion school, with aspirations to become a Fashion Stylist or Product designer.


Do you have any special hobbies, talents, or interests?

In addition to my academic pursuits, I have a keen interest in creating digital illustrations, which I showcase on a social media platform (@thearchpod) that I co-curated alongside my partner. 

I have successfully launched nine exclusive Illustrator packs tailored for architecture students, including hand-drawn trees, patterns, and plants. Among these packs, six are available for purchase, and I have been selling them through the global platform for Architects and designers, Studio Alternativi, for the past two years. You can explore more about it here.

Furthermore, I find great enjoyment in watching squash matches and exploring diverse food recipes, which I love to cook. Taking impromptu adventure trips and styling my friends are additional passions of mine, which not only help me stay grounded but also serves as a wellspring of creativity.


See Also