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M’sian uni student becomes FIRST female Asian to win international architecture award for disaster relief research

M’sian uni student becomes FIRST female Asian to win international architecture award for disaster relief research

Kirat Kaur

Siti Nurafaf Ismail, an architecture student from University Malaya, has just been declared the winner of RIBA Norman Foster Travelling Scholarship!

This win also makes her the FIRST ASIAN WOMAN to hold the title since the scholarship began in 2006.

Asian Dad approves!
(Picture Credit: Quickmeme)

Not only that, Siti beat out thousands of architecture students to secure herself a £7,000 (~RM36,000) scholarship from the prestigious Royal Institute of British Architects (RIBA) for her research on disaster relief.

Picture Credit: RIBA

Her winning project is one that will bring great good to cities affected by natural disaster. The first phase of her research was on the rebuilding efforts in Lombok, Indonesia after the devastating earthquakes in August 2018.

Aftermath of Lombok earthquake
(Picture Credit: The Jakarta Post)

She travelled to the island in January this year with a mission to observe the community’s rebuilding process up close and determine how an architect fits into that experience.

Picture Credit: South China Morning Post

According to South China Morning Post, this project inspired Siti to apply for the RIBA scholarship that went a long way in making an impression on the judges…

“Everything from the budget to the choice of locations in Siti Nurafaf Ismail’s project was well-researched and she showed a great deal of initiative in self-funding the first phase of the research.”

Lord Foster, Founder and Executive Chairman, Foster + Partners; President, Norman Foster Foundation

With this scholarship in hand, she will be continuing her research to Hokkaido and Karachi –cities recently devastated by powerful earthquakes- with NGOs working to rebuild the communities.

Siti will be observing and documenting the work of two highly respected architects, the award-winning Shigeru Ban and Pakistan’s first female architect, Yasmeen Lari.

Yasmeen Lari
(Picture Credit: Architect’s Journal)

After she graduates, Siti hopes to specialise in disaster
management as she sees a growing need for architects’ involvement in disaster
management with increased incidences due to climate change.


With that in mind, we salute Siti for her humane work and wish her all the best!


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