Dr. Marwa Al-Sabouni is a Syrian architect and author; among many prestigious accomplishments, she is a Prince Claus laureate 2018, and a BBC 100 Women 2019. Her acclaimed book ‘The Battle for Home’ was shortlisted by The Guardian as one of the best architectural books in 2016. Her TED Talk has been viewed over 1 Million times, and Prospect Magazine named her as one of the Top 50 thinkers around the World. Marwa is an accomplished international public speaker and has spoken on many platforms around the world including, the Sydney Opera House, and the World Economic Forum. She runs a private studio with her partner in their city Homs and she is co-founder of Arch-news, the world’s first and only website dedicated to architectural news in Arabic.
My first job ever was… an architect at the city’s university engineering office (the government had a policy of automatically assigning young graduates into its public institutions, mine was the above).
I decided to be an architect because… I scored that much in my A level exams.
My proudest accomplishment is… writing The Battle for Home.
My boldest move to date was… to quit the government granted job because it was not fulfilling. (I tried to change things for about a year, reaching a deadlock, I gave it up).
My dream architecture project is… every project is a new challenge and a new experience from which one hopes to grow, learn, collaborate, and contribute.
The idea for The Battle of Home came to me when… I was reflecting on the connection between the conflict that was taking place right outside of my window and the shape of my city’s built environment.
My experience writing The Battle for Home was… eye-opening and soul searching.
I surprise people when I tell them… I stayed the whole time during the war in my city.
“Every project is a new challenge and a new experience from which one hopes to grow, learn, collaborate, and contribute.”
My best advice for people interested in architecture is… think as a user, imagine as a maker.
My best advice from a mentor was… when you have a message you must have the wisdom of delivering, it is your job to think of the best way of delivering your message, you never drop it down off your shoulders, you must place it carefully.
My biggest setback was… facing war at the outset of my productive life.
I overcame it by… patience and having faith.
Work/life balance is… working as a way of living. (when you love your work and consider working as your role in being).
If I had an extra hour in the day, I would… ride horses.
Being an architect and author is… my passion and my craft.
If you googled me, you still wouldn’t know… I’m (trying to be) a good horseman.
I stay inspired by… minds that see details (by the craftsmanship of any vocation, and by storytelling).
The future excites me because… it holds the ‘potential’.