Awakin Calls » Danish Kurani » Transcript
Danish Kurani: Architect, Space Creator
Jul 18, 2020: Creating Transformative Physical Spaces for Learning and Human Flourishing
Guest: Danish Kurani
Host: Pavi Mehta
Moderator: Negin Khorasani
Welcome to Awakin Calls. Every Saturday, we host a conversation with an individual whose inner journey inspires us and whose work is transforming our world in large and small ways. Awakin Calls are an all-volunteer-run offering of ServiceSpace, a global platform founded on the simple principle that by changing ourselves, we change the world to create a more compassionate and service-oriented society. Thank you for joining us!
Pavi: Welcome, everyone. My name is Pavi Mehta and I have the joy of playing host for today's global Awakin Calls. Thank you for joining us. The purpose of these calls is to share stories that plant seeds for a more compassionate society while fostering our own inner transformation. We do this by holding collective conversations with diverse guest speakers who inspire us to live in a more service-oriented way. Behind each of these calls is a team of ServiceSpace volunteers. Their invisible work allows us to hold this space.
Today, our special guest speaker is Danish Kurani. Thanks again for joining today's call. We will begin with a minute of silence to anchor ourselves into this space.
Thank you again for joining today's call, today in conversation with Danish Kurani. As an all-volunteer offering, each Awakin call is a conversational space co-created by many invisible volunteer hands. In a few minutes. our moderator Negin Khorasani will begin by engaging in an initial dialogue with our speaker. At the top of the hour we will roll into a circle of sharing where we invite all your reflections and questions. At any time, you can submit a comment or question via the webcast form on our live stream page. You can also email us at firstname.lastname@example.org.
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It is my pleasure now to introduce our moderator. Our moderator today is the multifaceted Negin Khorasani. She is a social entrepreneur, activist, writer, poet, Heartfulness trainer, educator, and the co-founder of Be 8nfinite. Negin holds a master's degree in architecture and is working towards a doctorate in psychology. She rejoices in helping individuals and groups get in touch with their inner being, meaning, wisdom, power, talents and to discover their best ways of expression, their most effective roles in the world and to expand consciousness. Thank you so much Negin. It's over to you to get the ball rolling.
Negin: Thank you very much Pavi. It is a real pleasure for me to be here today in this Awakin call and to introduce and welcome Danish Kurani to this program. Danish Kurani is an architect, educator and the founder of Kurani, a platform for funding life-changing architecture. Danish has always been curious about and devoted to the question of how space design might help solve issues such as poverty, hunger, and inequity. In 2011 he left the world of large design firms in which he had worked since graduating from Rice University with a bachelor's degree in architecture. Reflecting on the world's monumental social problems, he knew that at the core, the solution lies in education.
Kurani took his thoughts to Harvard where he earned his Master of Architecture in urban design. He subsequently founded Kurani to work on a solution to his observation that despite enormous advances in pedagogical methods in the past several decades, the shape of our learning spaces has remained largely unchanged since 1950s. Seeking to remedy these constrictions, Danish links architecture with student centered learning. His innovative design helps schools empower students and teachers in the learning process and in being more accepting of the latest and best learning models and technologies. He also uses the school box concept utilizing the fabrication of simple interconnected parts to provide maximum flexibility, which significantly reduces construction costs and time as well.
Danish: Thank you for having me.
Negin: Would you like to say a few words before we dive into our conversation?
Danish: I am excited to be here. It's my first Awakin call -- hopefully the first of many so ….
Negin: It is wonderful to have you here today. So, I would like to start by asking, if you think back on your childhood and adolescence, would you say there were formative experiences that were planting seeds for the kind of work you are doing today?
Danish: Oh, even before the age of 3, I had lived in three different countries. By the time I graduated high school, I had lived in eight or ten different places and all that movement was probably part of the formation -- because every time I moved the environment changed. So, I probably became quite adept at navigating different types of environments, understanding the changes in environments a lot better. You become more sensitive to something when it's constantly changing around you or affecting your life so I'm sure that had something to do with it.
I also grew up in a Muslim community that was very much steeped in the ethic of service. I believe that certainly played a part in forming me to care about doing good in the world. As architects, you can choose to build anything you want. So how is it that one chooses what they are going to build? So of course, I believe that probably led to even knowing that architecture was what I wanted to do. Since I was young, I was naturally just inclined to building things, making things, whether it was playing with LEGOs or finding your own things. My parents had a dry-cleaning business in Atlanta and so as a 6-, 7-, 8-, 9-year old, I would go to the store with them. I would be in the back, and I would find cardboard boxes that shirt hangers come in, and I would start building robots and cutting up these boxes and just building things. So, from an early age, I was inclined to do this type of stuff. And I believe, probably around the age of 12 or 13 is when it really clicked that “oh, this is called architecture. This is the built environment around you.”
I remember it was either in middle school or high school, I was on a mock trial team, where we pretend to be defense attorneys and prosecutors, and you go to an actual courthouse. We went to the courthouse in the next town over from mine and I believe I was a prosecutor. I cannot actually remember that, because even during the trial, I was sitting around in the courthouse and examining the walls and the architecture. Sort of lost myself in the building that I did not even realize I was there to be a part of this mock trial. So, it really started to click in the early teenage years.
In fact, aside from doing some LEGO kits and other toy kits and things, I was 13 when I got to do a project. In my religious school we had a competition to design a building that could win the Aga Khan award for architecture. This is an award that celebrates projects that contribute to the improvement of life and quality of life in the Muslim world. Even then, I feel like I was a little bit different in my thinking. Everyone that was competing went to the sort of quick, obvious, “okay, I'm going to design a hospital here and I'm going to…,” and they were all very noble ones, but for me it was a chance to solve a problem That is how I saw it.
It reminded me that when I was probably 8 years old, I had gone back to Pakistan to see my family. I remember my cousin Murad and his friends were maybe just two years older than me were playing cricket on the streets. These are 10-year-old kids and for anyone who knows the streets of Karachi, it is urban, it is busy and to be playing cricket in the streets can be quite dangerous. And so, I just remember then thinking, "well, wouldn't it be fantastic if kids didn't have to play in the streets and risk their lives to have some fun, and could have a recreation center."
As a 13-year-old, this was really somewhat pre-internet, so I was popping in encyclopedia CDs into the computer and looking up what is the natural native plant species in Karachi - banyan trees, and then looking up, okay, what's the size of a cricket field and really meticulously with chart papers, sketching out this design for a recreation center to serve those kids and serve a real need. Sadly, I did not win, but I think that was probably the first building I ever designed and even then, it was designed to meet a real need that people had.
Negin: I would say not really sadly because I believe it's the process and what we become in the process of any competition or any endeavor in life that matters the most rather than the present or the gift that we win. So, fantastic! As you mentioned, you started your work by looking at architecture to create solutions to today's issues. Can you talk a little bit deeper into this area and how it became your mission in architecture?
Danish: Sure. If you believe in architecture as much as I do and what I mean by that is understanding the power that it has. So sometimes I say this facetiously, but I really mean it, that I could alter relationships. Negin, like you and your family. I could alter your family dynamic or your relationship with your partner just by redesigning your home.
Negin: That's amazing.
Danish: By changing the location of the bedrooms, like bringing the kids' bedrooms closer to the parent's bedrooms that might be good or bad for that family, but it will alter their relationship. Changing the shape of your dining table, changing your shower curtain, for example, basic little things throughout your house, I am confident that I could change your relationship and your family dynamics. If you understand the power that architecture has, then why not start to apply that to good. With anything in this world if you have powers, you could apply them for good or evil, it is rarely ever neutral. We can use that power for good and improve education, people's health, wellbeing, race relations, environment. I even think things like food security, water security, I could affect it with architecture.
One of the challenges I have always seen is, architects are somehow a part of the problems in the world. What I mean by that, not to be disparaging of my own profession, our own profession Negin, but if you look at emissions that come out of buildings and the building process, that's a large part of what contributes to greenhouse gases in the world. Things like that. Even shipping materials from around the world to build buildings. I used to work at architecture firms where they would ship a particular type of stone from a quarry in Italy to Los Angeles for projects and it made no sense in terms of thinking ecologically. So of course, as architects, we are a part of these problems.
At the same time, when are we ever at the conversation table when global leaders are making decisions on environment, economy, welfare, health, education? We are not at that conversation table. For me, it's all about making sure that we are, and the way to do that I think, as a profession, we must drop this preoccupation and our obsession with aesthetics and making things cool. We really must think about the social, political, economic and ecological ramifications of what we do and see the potential in it. Because if you think about why architecture started in the first place, I am talking eons ago, it was about shelter and agriculture. The first architecture was basically getting up walls and a roof or putting up a fence to keep your livestock. But what was that? That is basic needs, that was the point of architecture. That is why we have architecture to meet the needs of people. Yet, somehow, we have almost 8 billion people in the world whose needs are not met, and we continue to build for the 1% or build redundant things or build things that are useless. And so, for me, it's that as a designer, you should spend every day trying to meet the needs of these almost 8 billion people in the world.
Negin: Yeah, exactly and that brings me to this part of our conversation to ask you, how do you think architecture can actually contribute to education, to educating the society and showing ways that architecture could be meaningful in an overbuilt, overpopulated world and show ways to a kinder, more thoughtful, more inclusive and more sustainable ways of life and, living our urban life?
Danish: Sure, well, this is a big problem you mentioned, “sustainable". I guess it is probably because of industrial revolution. We have gotten to this mass production mentality which has led to mass consumption. Just recently I heard some stats, and this is staggering, it is almost unbelievable. The stats went like this, the fashion industry made 150 billion garments last year, 55% of those are in landfills already. Even in something like fashion, we think about the extraordinary waste. These days, if your toaster breaks, you are not going to try to repair it, you toss it out and you will go on Amazon and buy another one. This mass production has led to mass consumption, which leads to incredible amounts of waste. A few years ago, I was in Massachusetts, near Cape Cod and I was visiting a friend and we went to his grandparent's house. His grandparents still had their appliances, the dishwasher and microwave and refrigerator and every appliance in their kitchen, were original from the sixties. It blew my mind. I don't even remember the last time I saw an appliance that was more than 20 years old. They had maintained it, but the fact that it blew my mind was shocking. It should not, of course, it works just fine.
You look at other countries, let us say Cuba, they have been somewhat isolated from the rest of the world for many decades. So, the import-export, that was not really happening, you go there and well, they still have automobiles that are working just fine, that is decades old. It is part of their culture to not just trash things. I think as architects, we must put ego aside and say,” look, it's not always about starting from scratch. I am not going to level the building. I don't have to waste if the bones of a place are good.” A lot of my work is renovation. It is adaptive reuse. I have taken, for example, old office buildings and turned them into schools. I have taken an old industrial warehouse and turned it into a rehabilitation center. There is so much that we can do that is part of our creativity. Not having to waste all that energy and material resources to build new every time. We can lead by example there as architects.
Negin: Correct me if I am wrong. It is not being too much focused all the time on the visual aspect of architecture because that is the tricky part. Because architecture is part of visual art, we get obsessed sometimes as architects to design something that is visually perfect. If we are inclined to a specific style, let us say modernism or minimalism or whatever that is trendy then, we want to eliminate everything that is not compatible with that trendy aspect of our design. How do you look at this aspect of architecture?
Danish: It is funny hearing you even say those terms because we do not really use those terms amongst my team. I have not heard that type of conversation since grad school. For us aesthetics is just there to be in service of function. There is this long debate of what comes first, form or function. As I mentioned, too much of the industry is focused on form. But function is where we can serve society. I think, there are a lot of architects that focus on the “what we build”. For me, I care mostly about why we design. So, it is not about building for the sake of building. Because, if you are just building because you want to make cool stuff, then you are potentially adding to waste and pollution and draining finite resources.
But if you think about, “well, why am I building this?” That goes beyond, that even goes into your economics of being an architect. Let us say a client comes to you Negin and says, “I want you to build me a prison”. A lot of architects would say, “sure, how much can you pay? When can we start?” For me, it is “well, do I believe in that system, because why would I work to build something in the world if I don't believe in it?”
I think that is where the disconnect comes sometimes with design. We get so obsessed with the craft – “is that detail right? is that line perfect? Does that wall meet exactly where it needs to?” All these little things. So, what if you did a beautiful prison, but you do not believe in what prisons do? If you think that maybe rehabilitation is a better way to transform these people's lives, instead of just writing them off, locking them away, then you would never build that prison no matter how much it was paying. Because you are thinking about, “what am I putting out into the world?” Literally, you are affecting the world. Somehow, you are making a dent in the world. It is either going to be positive or negative. You must want to think about that. Surely it could not be so much about the art.
I guess, hearing you call it art is funny because I think of architecture as, maybe, a very small percentage art. It is mostly science and engineering and social science and anthropology and all these other things. Of course, as architects, to do it well, we must understand the art portion. I think that is just in service of achieving any goals we have and the objectives we want to try to meet. I think you must build what you believe in, because everything we build, we are imbuing it with societal values. If you look at schools from turn of the century, century and a half ago; society valued obedient workers who could work in factories and be a part of the industrial revolution. It is clear when you look at school buildings from that time. If you go back throughout history and you look at anything, you can look at a ziggurat with steps leading up to it or an outdoor pyramid. In those cultures, they believed in certain sacrifices or celebrations and that is them saying, “look, this is how we want to live and therefore we built this”. Basically, that is how I think now with architecture. How do we want to live as a society, then let us build that? That is our opportunity to make this tangible, make it concrete. Whatever we want as a society, whatever we believe, architects get the joy of, and we have the responsibility I should say, of turning that into concrete, tangible reality. So, you must only build what you believe in.
Negin: Well said. It is great responsibility on the shoulder of architects, and focusing on the why, as you mentioned, is very important. So that ties us back to the question of why you chose education as the subject of your focus in architecture.
Danish: I knew I wanted to do good. I knew that I wanted to create positive change in the world. Of course, there are many ways that you can do that. Even when I started practicing on my own, about seven years ago, I knew that I wanted to tackle everything from poverty alleviation, to food and water security, climate, economic development, education, women's right and social justice. I knew that across the course of my career, I would love to tackle all of those.
The reason I started with education goes back to my definition of what education is. If you think about all the problems that we have in society, let us say with climate change, a great example, we are being very reactive to the problem. We have so many challenges, global ailments. We are reacting to those. For me, education is the most proactive thing that we can do. The reason I say proactive is because, the way I see education, if we had an educated global population, we wouldn't create these problems in the first place.
I've debated this with others where a lot of people have said, “well, you can have people that are incredibly book-smart, have every degree in the world from top university and they can go out and do bad things in the world.” They could -- just as a white-collar individual can be engaging in white collar crimes. I have heard that side of it, but I think that my definition of education is a little bit more holistic. It is not just what is in the books. It is learning how to be a good human. That is part of education because, if we're teaching people how to solve the most complex of equations, but we're not teaching them what to apply that towards and how it can help humanity, then why are we teaching them that in the first place? That, to me, does not make sense.
To me, definition of education is about learning ethics and morals and how to be a good human. Now if you step back and think, “well, if everyone had that education, then we probably would not be creating so many of these problems to begin with.” That is why I started designing for education first, amongst all the different things that I do want to tackle.
Negin: Wonderful! Probably if you think about that, it is not all about learning from the world outside but finding the answers from inside as well and using our inner instinct in responding to the situation and being more creative for children. Wonderful! So how are you trying to make architecture help in education and the educating system?
Danish: So many ways. You can even draw a parallel to Maslow's hierarchy in a way where before anyone can reach self-actualization, Maslow would say, “well, first you have to have your basic needs met like food, shelter, water, that type of stuff.” If you look at education spaces around the world, just think about public schools in America for example, those are not places where a kid's basic needs are met sometimes. They are not clean, healthy, safe environments for us to send our children.
That is just baseline starting point but then you start diving in deeper and working with schools to figure out why are we educating the children? Why do these kids come to school for eight hours a day? Is it just that they are there to get content drilled into their heads? They could do that with Khan Academy App or YouTube. They could just sit at home and do that. What are we teaching and how are we teaching? Are we providing something that is an added benefit? Are we doing this because this is what the rest of society tells us should be done? Is that like, “well, kids show up every day for eight hours a day so the parents can go to work. This is what we do.” Or are we thinking and reflecting on the youth? We have this great responsibility to nurture the children and turn them into something. Whatever we decide to turn them into, that is what the future of the world is going to look like. That means working with schools to figure out the decision and then design for that.
I will give you a good example. It is not a school. It is a learning program, an afterschool program. It was something that I did in partnership with Google. It is called Code Next Lab. The idea was that in public education, especially in inner cities, where in the US it might be mostly Black and Latino kids, they are not getting computer science education. And that is extremely fundamental for this next century. If you do not know computer science, then it's almost like being illiterate. This is becoming a key skill, a fundamental skill that you must know. The lab we built is in Oakland. These kids might be less than a one-hour drive away from Silicon Valley and yet be a world apart. They have no access, no connections, like they have no place being there, and they are so disconnected from opportunities to advance their lives and to build technology that is going to help their communities. To tackle this problem, Google was designing this program and we designed a lab for them.
I will tell you how architecture can support educational goals? One of the first problems was access to computer science and technology education. These kids were not getting it in schools. Google could say, “well you have to come to Silicon Valley, to our campus,” but then you have already created an access problem. Kids might not be able to make that one hour commute every day after school. So immediately we have cut off a large portion of the niche community. So, we built the Lab in the heart of their community. Literally, we took over a vacant storefront. Next door is a Subway restaurant, a jewelry store, and a Metro PCS. This is in the heart of their community. These kids can walk there. It also signals to them that good things can happen in their community. Regardless of what people say about their community, it is not this hopeless, derelict place. We have good things here. I do not have to go out of my community for positivity. So that was first.
The second is that a lot of these Black and Latino kids were not feeling a sense of belonging in tech. That is kind of obvious. If you turn on the news, who do you see, who do you affiliate with tech? The media shows you Mark Zuckerberg, Bill Gates, Elon Musk. They are all the same. They are older white males. Some of these kids are 13, 14, 15 years old. Imagine a 13-year-old, Hispanic girl. How is she going to look at Bill Gates and say, “Oh yeah, if he did it, I can do it too.” We have done a ton of historical research on people of color that were scientists and engineers and made significant contributions. Their stories are plastered all over the labs. So, these kids are constantly discovering who did what. They are seeing Guillermo Camarena, a Mexican inventor who invented colored television. I did not even know that before we started this process and these Hispanic kids get to walk in and see someone who looks like them and comes from backgrounds like theirs. And say, “Wow, he invented color TV. How cool is that? Okay. Maybe I can do that.” We are creating that sense of belonging, through just the visual stories that we surrounded the kids with.
Another challenge was relevance. This is what the Google staff were telling me as they were developing this program. When you grow up in these communities it is cool to be the next LeBron James or the next Jay Z and be an entertainer, but no one ever makes it cool to be a scientist or a computer scientist at that. How do we make them feel like, “Hey, this is actually worth doing in my life? This could be actually really neat.” So, we had to make it feel relevant for them. We have also deconstructed bits of technology, like Beats headphones. We built the lab five years ago and these kids really love Beats headphones. So, we actually bought a pair, took it apart and put it up on the wall so they could see every little wire and bits and pieces and realize that a lot of the products that they use today were designed by computer scientists and engineers. So, “Hey, that's actually cool! I could design beats or something like that.”
Since I care about sports, we showed them how Neymar, the Brazilian soccer player, has sensors in his soccer balls to track his performance. Even video game controllers have changed. Dating back to the eighties when video games first started coming out to now, they could see in this interactive exhibit that, "Hey, computer sciences had changed how we play."
There are so many things with getting kids in that maker mindset. That was another objective. How do we get kids to think like makers? Because if you think about it, in school right now, they are just almost like receivers. They are just bombarded with content and are not supposed to think and analyze and make. So how do we get them in this maker mindset? Negin, you probably know the Pompidou Center in Paris, right? That is one of my favorite buildings in the world because, Richard Rogers and Renzo Piano, basically gave the public free education by exposing the guts of the building on the outside. By color coding it so everyone can see and think, “Oh, that's how air pipes bring through the HVAC systems. And, oh, that's how all the water pipes feed the restrooms and kitchens. And okay, that's how electricity is getting through the building.”
We wanted kids to have a similar “aha” moment. We exposed the ceilings so they could see and say, “look, these are the guts of the building. This is how it is made.” In fact, we have these two sliding barn doors and we made them clear. They are plexiglass so you could see the framing inside. I made sure that we expose the screws on every window in the space. I wanted kids to see how the glass was installed. All these subtle things in our environment that you might not even notice, but they are sort of passive teachers. And over time you have these, “oh, I never thought about that, I never realized that’ beautiful “aha' moments. Frankly, kids are sometimes more in tune with that kind of stuff than we are. We are so caught up in our heads sometimes.
Again, if you think about it, these kids had problems of access, so we solved for that. They did not feel like they belonged in technology, so we were able to solve for that. They did not think it was cool, but we made it seem relevant. And they were not used to thinking like makers and we are helping nudge them in that direction. That is just one example, but it has had profound impacts. I tend to go back to the spaces that we build and conduct post-occupancy research to see the efficacy is of what we're building. Because to me it is not just art, it is science.
Negin: Of course, yeah. And how many years ago was it?
Danish: This was about five years ago. Even within the first year, we had 80% of kids say that the lab, the physical space, gave them the confidence that they could pursue a career in computer science.
Danish: Two out of three kids said the space -- being in that lab -- made them feel like they could change the world.
Danish: Architecture can do that. Architecture can give kids the confidence to go out and change the world. That is an incredible validation of the power that architecture can have.
Negin: Yeah. So, my next question will be, how much of this creating process comes from the freedom that your client, Google in this example, allows you to have and how much comes from you pushing for it? Maybe you can go a little bit toward the conversation about your design philosophy and creative process and how, as an architect, you can have your own way of approaching things. Also, you can talk about the solutions that you can bring, even though your client may not necessarily be aware of that or wanting that.
Danish: Well, you call it “client.” I would say our focus is always on the “end user.” Who is it serving? Because sometimes the client is not even the end user. If you take this Code Next Lab for example, Google is the client, but the end user is all these amazing kids from Oakland. For me it's, "Who are you serving?" It goes back to that question of, "Who is this for? And how are you going to solve their problems and make their life better?"
Danish: Client or no client, with our new model for example, which I just launched a couple of weeks ago, even before there is a client, we go out and find communities in need that have problems. Whether it be social justice issues that we want to solve, whether it is homelessness and poverty alleviation, whether it is women's rights. Whatever it might be, we will find the community that we can help, and then we will find the client later who can sponsor a project and fund it. For me, it is connecting with that community and those individuals in need and understanding them. I understand the architecture part, so I will bring that, but I cannot bring that until I have a deep understanding of them.
I have used techniques that anthropologists use, like ethnographic studies, where you're just a fly on the wall, observing because you want to really put yourself in their shoes and try to understand on the day to day what they are going through. I will sometimes shadow these communities for days at a time just to see it firsthand.
It would be the equivalent of, if I were to design a house for you Negin, of course, knowing you and spending time with you and talking to you and understanding your needs and developing it with you, it's going to fit you a lot better and serve your needs a lot better than if I designed it without knowing you, without you. If I didn’t know how many people were in your family or even the most basic of things, if I didn't know how often you guys like to get together, watch television or, do you get together for all three meals or maybe everyone does their own thing. Maybe your son is creating a new music album that he is recording in his bedroom and it's going to be incredibly loud and keep you up at all hours of the night. So, you want your bedroom to be the complete opposite corner of the house. Like all these idiosyncrasies that people have.
There are also cultural differences we must consider when we build in India or Australia; or as we are right now talking to communities in Ghana and Ivory Coast and, and Kenya. Those are all different contexts and culture. So, we must understand those cultural differences; even something like proxemics, which people would think, well, “why does an architect need to know that?” Proxemics is an understanding of what distance people engage and feel comfortable at, in different cultures. In the U S that is a lot farther than let us say somewhere like the Middle East, where they get a lot closer when they talk. That has profound impacts on space. So, it is all this science that really goes into it that we must study. We must know that, to be able to develop the best product for people to use and for it to work for them.
Negin: So that is how you start your design process; to study all those areas and then come up with a solution? Where do you tie it with the visual part of the work? Do you do it at all?
Danish: We do. Of course. If you look through all the projects that I have ever done, I do not think you could really pinpoint a particular visual style. There are certain architects you can go look at, like Zaha Hadid’s and Richard Meier’s and you say, “oh okay, I know who did that”. That is because to them, the style matters more sometimes than the function. This is my signature style. I do not care if you are in Abu Dhabi or Rio de Janeiro or Vancouver, you are getting the same looking building, using the same materials, built in the same techniques. Does not matter what is local to you and what people near you know how to build. No, forget it; you are getting this signature piece.
That to me does not make a lot of sense. Of course, the aesthetics come into play. If we go back to Code Next Lab, surrounding these kids with stories of other Black and Latino scientists and inventors, that creates part of the aesthetic. But it was done in service of this need and the objective that we had, was to create a sense of belonging for them.
Negin: Yeah, makes complete sense to me.
Danish: Yeah, so we do it. But it always comes as a response to a certain need that we are trying to solve for
Negin: Fantastic. You talk about how physical space affects the nature of the internal, emotional, developmental and spiritual space that a person experience. Can we then say that in the design process, we must start from the internal, emotional, and developmental and spiritual to come up with the most conducive physical space? Can we say that?
Danish: I would say you have got to pair that with people's physiological responses to space as well. And there is science that is being developed and researched on this. Everything from, if I were to change the color of your wall from light blue to red, how do you respond? Not only physically, but physiologically and emotionally. How do you respond? What are the signals that go off in your brain? So, for example, we know from color theory; that blue is more calming, better for creativity and red draws attention to things. That is why stop signs are red. That is why traffic signals are red and that is why our teachers used to grade our papers in red. It is drawing your attention to something immediately. We know things like color theory and there's so much research now being developed.
People are more creative when they work under a higher ceiling. So, you can increase someone's creativity by 25% if you make the ceiling higher. For focused work and task work, lower ceilings help us really lock in and focus. So, I am just giving you small examples here and there. But yeah, when we design, we must think about the physical and emotional responses too. These are all chemical things that happen in our brains. As designers, if we are unaware of that, we could be sending someone into some sort of chaotic, frantic state without even knowing it. But when we do know it and when we take the time to understand it and study it, we can, and this is going to sound strange, I am going to say manipulate. But I mean it in the most positive way. We can manipulate people in extremely positive ways. I can give someone a sense of calm and I can increase someone's ability to connect the dots and be creative.
Again, this goes back to what I said earlier; when you have a power, you can use it for good or evil. We can use this for good if we take the time to understand. It is not just about, oh well, what is the new Pantone color of the year, what's trending on Instagram and oh, we have got millennial pink so let us just slap that on the walls. No! That is superficial. I do not even call that architecture. To me that is decorating. That has nothing to do with what architecture is about.
Negin: Very superficial in a way. I always have been thinking why architects need to know so many different subjects. Although a little bit of each subject, but it seems like a very vast ocean, shallow in a way, because you need to address all those areas in your design. Do you feel the same?
Danish: I do. Then you get to go very deep when you are building a particular type of project. If you are building a school, you must go deep into education. If you are building a hospital, you must go deep into health. So of course, you are right. I think that is why I love architecture education as a model as well, because it is multidisciplinary by nature. When you are going to solve a problem, you must know so many different things and then go deep in one of them; whatever you are trying to solve.
Negin: Are you thinking to do a little bit of education in architecture?
Danish: What do you mean?
Negin: Like teaching in schools and in architectural schools? Or do you do that at all?
Danish: Oh, I do. I teach. In fact, I just finished teaching a course at Stanford, not too long ago. It was “Radically Reinventing the Design and Construction of Buildings”. This was a new course that I created for Stanford and it was not just for architecture students. We had engineers, computer science majors, business school students and sustainability construction students. Together what we were examining is how to build cheaper, faster, and better. We have eight billion people to build for and solve their needs. You know, it is 2020, why should it take nine months to erect a house? Why should it cost so much money to build things? Why have we not used technology to make design and construction exponentially cheaper and faster? You see that exponential curve in so many other industries where technology has enabled them to do things so much better. That has not quite hit designing construction yet. So, we examined that. I also teach a course at Harvard once a year. It is called “Learning Environments for Tomorrow”. It is for educators, school leaders, superintendents, people that work in government, even teachers, and other designers. We examine the trends in education now. What might the future of school design look like? And how do we start building in that direction to have better education for kids?
Negin: Hmmm. Wonderful. It is wonderful to be of a great influence on the younger generation. Can you tell me who has been influencing you in your life in general and toward the work that you are doing? Any kind of deeper, spiritual influence from anybody or any school of thought?
Danish: Of course--like for all of us--generally, our parents are guiding lights. Monkey see, monkey do, right? You watch them growing up and you are modeling after their behavior -- just how hardworking they are, how honest they are, the integrity that they live their lives with. That is almost like a given that they become an incredible influence. I also think growing up in the religious community that I did there were always opportunities to serve, which is fantastic. As a child, you are put in the positions to do this service, and you start to develop it almost as a habit.
In recent years, on my own, I am reading and exploring individuals like Eckhart Tolle, a very spiritual guy. I am in the middle of reading A New Earth for the second time. I am discovering so many new layers to it the second time around as we all do when we are reading things. To me that has been a fantastic source of awakening and developing a deeper consciousness of “what are we doing here”.
About 15 years ago, there was an older gentleman, who became somewhat of a mentor. He was a professor as well and he told me, “you know, everyone is always on this rat race. Everyone is just go, go, go, go. It is okay to step off the path and question what you are doing and why you are doing it. Because, the people that never question that and they just go on this path, they might get to the end of their life and realize, was this all for naught? I have had to do research on this for one of the schools that I designed, the Riverbend school in India. It was a longitudinal study on happiness, and the conclusion was that fame, your job and money, none of this contribute to your happiness. Personal relationships do.
I think through these projects that I've done and the bits of advice -- like that of, “don't be afraid to just pause”, “it's okay, you won't fall behind,” “don't feel the pressure to keep up with the Joneses,” -- I have understood that it is better to think about where you're going versus just blindly running in some direction that everyone else is going and just being a sheep, and that sounds right. A New Earth echoes that and it has been a fantastic inspiration for me in the last few years.
Negin: For sure. Especially as architects, we really can contribute to create a new earth in meaningful ways.
Danish: Yeah. Absolutely.
Negin: What are your thoughts? I was inspired by this sentence from Frank Lloyd Wright who says, “a great architect is not made by way of a brain nearly as much as he is made by way of a cultivated and enriched heart.” What are your thoughts on that?
Danish: Interesting. Yeah, I think that goes back to this idea of what education should be. I mentioned earlier you could be the most educated person in the world, but if you haven't learned how to be a good human, to have the brain part, but not the enriched heart part, then you can be reckless. I think it is incredibly important even in education for architects and everyone. Not only should we be learning skills and learning how to do things in the world, we should be learning why to do them, how to do them. These are all incredibly important foundations upon which to build the skills. Again, you could learn skills, but if you are misguided, if you know how to sail a boat but you have no compass, you are going to be in the middle of the ocean. You are dead. There is no point in starting to sail. I think that is what he is referring to and it's fantastic to see someone like Frank Lloyd Wright thinking about it in that way.
Negin: Yeah. Thank you so much Danish. It was amazing talking with you. It is a real pleasure to know and learn more about your work. And, it is heartwarming to see you are influencing the next generation of architects.
Danish: Thank you.
Pavi: Thank you so much both of you. It has been wonderful hearing the exchange. I would like to remind our listeners that if you have a question you can write in on the web form on the livestream page, or you can email us at email@example.com.
In the meantime, I am going to jump in here with host privileges to ask some questions of my own, Danish.
As you were speaking, I was wondering especially, when you were talking about the different cultures and the social norms around how much space is required. Now we are in an era with the pandemic where we have globally mandated social distancing, and suddenly, we must relate to our environments, each other, and the structures we live in, in very different ways.
And so, as an architect with your bend of mind and heart, what does this bring up for you?
Danish: A lot of things. Of course, the pandemic is horrible but at the same time, in a way it is, I believe, awakening a little bit of consciousness in people I should mention that I am somewhat of an old soul. I was forced to get a smartphone, and this was only in 2013. I resisted for so long, but my first project for my own company was in Australia so I had to get some sense of being mobile.
That said, I have felt for years now that too many people live in here (gesturing to head). We live in the digital world so much that people are almost not aware of the physical world although the physical world is inescapable. What I mean is, for example, when I lived in New York, people were crossing the street while looking at their phones. To me, that signals like, hey, we have a problem as a society. We are so into the screens that we are losing our ability to connect with humans physically.
Even the divisiveness and hate you see online; it does not happen so much in person; it is very easy to hide behind a keyboard. Even a lot of what the media shows us is not necessary. It is exaggerated. It is hyperbole. You get the feeling that when you walk around your communities, people do not really treat each other that way. So, my fear has always been, if we get too much into the digital world and forget how to live in the physical world, then that is dangerous for us.
I think the pandemic has awakened people to that because I have heard so many friends say, “I miss being in the office around other humans”. I am sick of just staring at the screen all day being on Zoom, and I am sorry for everyone that is doing that right now. In that sense, I think it is good. Maybe also, people realize environment a bit more because you are spending so much time in the same space. When you are literally in the house all day, you are starting to realize, wow, this air vent blows on me all day long and this is incredibly uncomfortable. Or, oh, there is an incredible amount of glare. Hmmm, if I sit on the north side of my house all day, then I have this perfect, even glow with no glare on the screen. And if I sit on the south side of the house, it is baking over there and incredibly hot because the sun is blasting down. Of course, this is for people in the northern hemisphere. Little things that as architects we know. Even when I book a flight, I am thinking about, “Well, we are traveling east to west. Do I want to sit on the sunny side or the not-sunny side of the plane?” These little things that come naturally to us. And I think people hopefully are becoming more conscious of their environment and starting to appreciate the physical world a bit more.
Pavi: I feel like what you are pointing to is the paradox of distancing; inviting a kind of intimacy with the environment that we bypassed before.
Danish: Right. We will not take it for granted when we do get back together. I think we will make sure that we never flake on a friend's invite to go anywhere or anything like that.
Pavi: Yeah. Yeah. One of the things you said earlier was about being an old soul and not hopping onto the train that everyone's riding so easily or even being willing to step off it. When you were talking, I was noticing that throughout, there was just a lightness in you, an ease, like a fluency in the language of what is at the heart of what you are doing. You make it sound effortless from start to finish, like this was a smooth ride. Given how much against the grain of most of the architectural world you are swimming in right now, can you describe some of the pain points or the struggle if there were any that shaped your journey?
Danish: Yeah, Of course. We do not like to relive those, so that is probably why it sounds effortless. You do not talk about the things that have scarred you and you have fought against. One of my first jobs in architecture, I remember was with an architect who was very big on style. I was designing a church in Pasadena, California, and the building, because it had this architect style, basically looked like a spaceship had landed there. It was completely foreign, and it just did not fit. It was not even really meeting their needs.
I remember asking my boss, "hey, why are we doing it with these white panels? Why are we doing it this way?" And he said, "that's just how we do it." This is when I knew I must do my own thing because architecture is such a personal thing. It is very hard to get on board with someone else's vision, especially when it is such a 180 from yours. With so many of the architects I worked for, it really was about, “let's make it flashy and sexy and cool and get on the cover of magazines.” It is bottom-line driven and there is a lot of ego imbued into it. That was just hard for me to swallow. It actually makes you miserable working there because you're thinking, “I'm literally wasting away what I could be doing to benefit the world. I am here designing things for the rich to get richer and show off to their billionaire friends. This is not going to help anyone. I'm literally wasting my education and my emotional and mental capacity here.”
So, there were those types of issues and pushback. Sometimes it's even hard to garner attention for good work, meaning to get people on board and raise awareness for it. If you look at design publications, they want to cover the millennial pink house that just got built because that's trendy and cool. So, I think raising awareness is a bit of a challenge, but again, I think for me, that is why I teach. I want this next generation to not be a part of this consumerism mindset and just be driven by whatever capitalism tells you to do. I want them to think for themselves and not be a sheep. If you are going to get into design, let us equip you with the mindset so you are going to go out and be a force of nature in the world and do incredible things. Not just fall in line and do what your bosses did to make money. I will not get into the more painful ones. These are just off the top of the head.
You are right, Pavi, there is always pushback on things. At the same time, I think when you put out a certain energy and you say apologetically, "look, this is what I believe, this is what I care about and this is what I want to do not for money, not for ego, but because this is my passion. I want to use that to serve mankind and every sentient being on the planet", then the right people find you. I think that is why I was so excited to be on this call. I did not even know about these Awakin calls a few months ago, and now I am excited to be a part of a community that thinks like that and I am thinking, "wow, maybe I found my tribe."
Pavi: You were describing the way you work -- you find a problem that you care about, you find a community that you can serve and the client comes at the end of that process. You said, "we will find the client. We will find the sponsor." That was almost the afterthought in the process. It can sound naive to do it that way. When you are describing this process initially before you had done all these projects, I am sure it can sound a little bit like a pipe dream or “how's that going to work?”
We had a question come in: how do you balance the creativity in your heart and your vision of what might be with the business and financial needs of commercial clients? How do you help them see new possibilities?
Danish: I guess it depends on what we mean by commercial clients. When I started the practice, I decided that I am going to pick and choose who I work with, even at the sacrifice of the economics of having a practice. Going back to the prison example, a lot of architects would say, "sure. I have no other client; I will do a prison for you. This is great. I can pay my bills, keep my firm alive, and do all these things." I have never operated that way. If we do not align, if you are bottom-line driven as a client, then I will point you to other fantastic architects that can take on your project. But that is just not for us because when you are designing with someone and for someone, that is a relationship you're getting into, and it's usually a fairly long-term relationship. I have partners and clients and communities that I have designed for projects, five, six, seven years ago that I am still in touch with constantly. That does not go away and so, I do not really see the point of designing with people that are not aligned. In my life, I can only do oh so many projects. Each one matters deeply to me. I am not going to waste time on something that is purely economy driven. I hope that answers your question.
Pavi: That makes sense. It leads into the next question from someone who is listening from LA thanking you for your commitment to your values and beliefs in designing for environmental and social good. I think there are two parts to the question. I think you have answered the first part a little bit. “What is your process and practice around identifying and integrating the needs of the community that you're designing for? And, in addition, when considering limiting beliefs and narratives, what process allows you to discern and transcend these potential obstacles in community adoption and in your own personal perspectives, assumptions, and biases?” Many layers to that question.
Danish: I will start with the first one. The process. It is important to understand what a typical process is like, and then you can see the contrast. Let us take a school, for example. If a school is being built, typically an architect will come, sit down with the school leaders and figure out their vision. I am not even sure how often they ask, "what's your vision?" They just say, "okay, you are educating kids. Cool. Sure. I know what that is. Tell me how many kids you have? Show me your block schedule. Do you have one-hour classes? Two-hour classes? We will figure out how many classrooms you need and then add a gym, cafeteria, library. Boom. We are done.” That is like, “voila. Here are the final plans.” That does not work. That does not work well, and so, for me, when I design, I lead our constituents, I lead the end-users through a series of workshops and design exercises that take them through a process of discovery.
A lot of times, I have not even thought about some of these things. When we were designing the Code Next Lab, one of the activities that I did with the educators there is, we literally role-played what it was like to walk into the space as a student. What are they seeing? What are they feeling? I took them outside onto the street and I said, "okay, together we're all going to walk in. One of you is going to play the educator who is receiving all of us children. Now go in there and let us roleplay this." We role played. All of us kids walked in and the educator was like, “Hey, Good morning! Welcome! How is it going? Welcome to our Saturday camp.” I said, “pause, time out” -- sort of an old-school like Saved by the Bell, Zack Morris, just like time out freeze the sea. We are a bunch of kids. We just walked in. “How do you want us to feel? What do you want us to see? Do we see a bunch of snacks laid out for us? Do we see a screen that is showing us what we are going to be doing today? Do we see your lovely face? What are we feeling? Is there a spotlight on us? on you? Are we walking into a carpeted floor, hardwood floor? How do you want us to feel? Can I sit down immediately? Do I have to stand and wait for your whole spiel to be done?” We did that. We walked through an entire journey of what a day would be like in the life of a child at the learning center and pausing at every critical moment and saying, “okay, all right. We want them to feel empowered in this moment. What type of technology, graphics, lighting, flooring, materials, textures, colors? The list could go on. What types of things make a kid feel empowered in this moment? Let us design for that. Now move on to the next moment.”
This is one example. That is one workshop of a dozen that I would run with communities to help them co-design. Help them understand and even articulate what their needs are. The same way if I asked you Pavi, “how does your family live?” It is kind of hard. But if I said, “okay, let me shadow you guys for a day. I will just be a fly on the wall and observe and take notes. Or let us role play and walk through what happens every morning in your house,” then that gets you to be conscious about what we are doing? Maybe we need something different.
Pavi: Yeah. You have done that in so many different contexts, so in that process, have there been assumptions of your own or perspectives or biases that have gotten flipped or that you've been surprised by what the process of shadowing revealed?
Danish: There are, of course. Because again, those cultural norms can be different, people’s experiences can be different and a lot of it is also based on our experiences. Like earlier I mentioned, we're attuned to the color red for drawing attention to things because we've grown up with traffic lights and stop signs and teachers grading our papers in red. May be in another corner of the world that color was yellow or blue. That is how they have been conditioned. If they have been conditioned in a different way, that is a completely different norm that they are used to. That happens from time to time. I think what is exciting about it is going back to some of these spaces and seeing people use things you have designed in a way that you did not even anticipate,
This was funded by Gates foundation. I did some prototype classrooms in Denver public schools. We had created spaces for introverts and extroverts and different types of learners. We had all these little nooks and crannies where the introverts go work by themselves. Maybe we did not even have enough because we had created this mountainous terrain in the classroom, which was meant to be like a social space. There were two girls that had taken some of the cushions and cubes and built little forts for themselves on the mountain to have privacy and it was not something we had pictured. It was designed for socializing and yet they were using it for the opposite. It is fun because you start to learn more, and it makes you a better designer in that sense as well.
Pavi: Yeah. That is beautiful. We have a question from an educator here who says our schools are going to be a hundred percent online in the fall. Do you have any thoughts to share with educators about being the architect of our virtual classrooms?
Danish: Hmm, that is a great question. That is a fantastic question.
I guess I do not know what country this educator is calling in from, but let's say in the US, going online in the past few months has highlighted the economic disparity and the equity gap that exists. Not every child is sitting in their parents' office at home with good WIFI connection and a peaceful room to learn from. There are kids whose parents are not tech savvy or, they don't have WIFI at home or, may not have a fast laptop or a laptop at all. Or they are forced to work from their bed or have five other siblings running around the house causing chaos while they are trying to learn something. I think everyone in education has seen that. As we continue forward, we must remember two things. One, that every kid at home is going to have a different scenario and two, when we were together physically, teachers were hopefully doing a good job of knowing their students-the introverts, the extroverts, the auditory learners, the visual or kinesthetic learners. Also, does this child like to write before he draws, or does he think better when he draws it out first and then starts to write it down? All those idiosyncrasies. Things that good educators do naturally is understanding the individuality of each child. Essentially, not to forget that you are in a virtual classroom. We are good at that in the physical classroom, because we have grown accustomed to do that in a particular environment. Now you are in a completely new place, which is online, but the kids still have the same needs. The kids still have the same habits and the same learning styles and it is important to understand that.
Also, if we go back to Maslow's for a second, a lot of schools are also realizing the pivotal role that they have played in basic needs for these children. Literally like feeding children. If the body is not nourished, how can you nourish the mind? It is actually very hard. I think as educators we must remember that it is not just about the content. It is about nurturing the whole child. Whatever that means. You may have a child who needs you to talk to the school about delivering food to their house or any of the things that become barriers to learning. Because these children have such different lives at home.
Pavi: Yeah. Yeah. That makes a lot of sense. It really strikes me that the way you are approaching this, it blurs so many boundaries. I mean, so much of what you are speaking of does not directly relate to architecture per se. Like you said, its anthropology and its behavioral science. It is just being caring human beings; build that fabric of community and architecture, is the doorway you enter through. We have talked a lot about your work in the community and society. I am wondering, what is the architecture of your days personally? How do you structure your life at a more micro level? What do you try and build into the fabric of your week, your day? Your life?
Danish: Well, maybe we will talk about pre COVID when life was not in a disarray for everyone. Obviously, we are all in transition right now. On a normal day, for me to get a few moments of peacefulness in the morning is good. Just sitting quietly, getting some sunlight early in the morning. I absolutely take a walk every day. I just love walking through nature. Being in Atlanta for these past few months has been a blessing. We are surrounded by nature. Birds have built a nest near the back porch. Yesterday I could see a mother bird feeding two baby birds. It felt like I was watching David Attenborough on Planet Earth. In my backyard. I see deer walking by daily. It is fantastic. Regardless of where I am, I like to get a walk near or through nature. It really helps me clear my head. Earlier when I mentioned that we are so caught up into our phones that we almost do not give our minds any downtime. It is constantly go, go, go. We have all these stimuli. It is almost like we need to be in these isolation chambers that would allow us to disconnect, be basically off the cliff. For me, walking does that. Walking without a phone. It is amazing what incredible and deep and creative thoughts you can have when you are not being distracted. I should probably do more of that. I would say may be an hour a day is not enough. Maybe I need more. I love reading. I usually read at the end of the day, right before bed.
Pavi: Anything you are reading particularly?
Danish: I was probably late to the game. I just finished Outliers by Malcolm Gladwell not too long ago, I'm reading a book called Never Split the Difference. I am notorious for having a few things going simultaneously.
Pavi: Yeah. Sounds like it. Well, on that note, we have another question come in that says Eckhart Tolle totally says that everything we do is ultimately a tool for our conscious awakening. How has your work transformed you and your inner development over your career and what is at the edge of your learning and development right now?
Danish: Hmm, very thoughtful question. I think for me a big thing. especially in A New Earth, he talks a lot about recognizing ego in yourself. That recognition is part of the awakening. As a fellow designer I suspect Negin will get this very well too. In design it is very easy to go down that path. We see so much design that is driven by ego. In a way, style is ego. Sorry to all the architects out there that are driven by style. But it's true that being driven by form and style really is ego because that's you saying, “I want you to know this is me. I did this.” Reading the book and just understanding is what motivates us that Tolle talks about. In a way, realizing we are sort of just a blip in time and history. He does not say this explicitly, but I would like to think that we almost take ourselves too seriously. If we step back and realize we are literally a blip in time, when we do the work, it is because we love it. I'll say for me, when I was really young in architecture, in the early twenties, I even remember saying this to myself, “I want to do something so monumental for the world that it goes down in history. like every couple of hundred years, a Beethoven comes along or a Michelangelo.” That is completely gone away now because of the realization that that's ego driven. Go do something monumental for the world, but do not worry about what comes after that.
I guess so many people in the world operate like, “okay, even if it is posthumous fame, I will take it.” You are gone, (I wonder) how does that sound happy? It means nothing. I think books like A New Earth are helpful for even just questioning our own intent behind things. This is fantastic because it is somewhat liberating, and you do not have the same pressure on yourself. You can do the work hundred percent for the right reasons.
Pavi: There you go, we have gone from architecture to archeology, really digging deep into the motivations and what lies under the surface. That is beautiful. To that second part of the question, I am curious, what is at the edge of your learning and development right now?
Danish: Architecturally speaking?
Pavi: Architecturally, life, whatever, whatever comes up. Yeah.
Danish: I think one of the things that I am thinking about now is how to scale impact beyond just what myself and maybe a small group of my designers can do. With this new model that I have launched, ultimately, I will be opening it up for designers around the world to come to us and pitch an idea and say, “here's a problem I have identified. I want to design for this. I really care about it. Can we try to get it funded on your platform?” So, I am starting to be open with relinquishing the authorship, portion of it.
I can do the number of projects that I can do. There is a finite amount that one individual can do. But more importantly, I can empower others to also go design important things and help them get it funded because at the end of the day, the goal is just to make sure, we're solving as many of these problems for as many people as possible. I think for me, that has been a very recent shift and that's sort of a journey that I am on right now.
Pavi: That's beautiful. Wow. I have one last question to ask that we ask all our guests, but before that, just wanted to check with Negin. Is there anything that you wanted to add before we go to our last question?
Negin: Oh, it is just inspirational and heartening to hear all the things that Danish is sharing, because it reminds me how we are as architects holding space, rather than just creating a physical space. Holding that space, as you were talking about, to allow other people to contribute and create that space of awareness in society. That is amazing!
Pavi: Beautiful. Thank you. Negin. Danish, the question that we ask all our guests is, how can we, as the Awakin call, an extended ServiceSpace community, help support and further your vision and work in the world?
Danish: Oh, very generous! not expected!
Well, you could support the projects that we are working on of course. If you go to our website, you will see all these different missions and causes and projects that have been designed. Everything from a project that we have right now, to develop a women's accelerator to help female entrepreneurs combat systemic gender biases in business. We are doing a 3-D printed school in India to help alleviate and get children out of poverty by teaching them vocational skills. We have developed the country's first smart library that has sensor technology embedded in the walls that can analyze speech patterns and help immigrants and minority children who struggle with literacy. You can support, help fund or spread the word to individuals about those projects. Additionally, if there are communities in need or problems that you see in your community or problems that you would like to see solved, bring them to our attention.
I love hearing from people from all over the world and either seeing what they are working on or how we can be of service. At the end of the day to remember that we are driven more by remembering that we are human first and then architect second. First and foremost, my responsibility will always be to be a good human before it is to be a good architect. Being a good architect kind of enables that. Whatever the community feels open to and whatever they want to do, they are more than welcome.
Pavi: Those are beautiful, beautiful responses.
Thank you. Thank you for your time and the energy and the spirit behind your long decades in this work. Much gratitude, as Negin said, for the space that you have been holding in the world of architecture. It is truly inspiring. We will close our time together, the same way we began with a minute, just anchoring this time in gratitude for the goodness that we received and perhaps with the wish that that goodness be beamed out to wherever it's needed in the world.
Thank you for listening to a recording of Awakin calls. To access archives, visit us at www.awakin.org and to get more involved, volunteer at www.servicespace.org.
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