Sydney-based architect and designer Rana Abboud has over eight years experience in architecture and has worked as project architect within several Australian firms. She was recently awarded the 2013 National Women in Construction (NAWIC) International Women’s Day Scholarship.
Architecture & Design spoke to Abboud about winning the NAWIC award, what makes good design and augmented reality.
What does it mean to you winning the NAWIC award?
Winning the award means being given the opportunity to research a topic that I am passionate about and the chance to meet incredible people through NAWIC and on my upcoming study tour. Against a broader, historical framework, it also reminds me how lucky I am to be living at a time when such an award even exists!
Can you tell A&D about your research paper and why you are writing it?
My research paper will provide an overview of mobile augmented reality’s (AR affordances for key phases of architectural practice. AR is ‘any system that enhances a user’s surroundings with real-time virtual information- registered in 3D space that seems to co-exist with the real world’. My research will look at how this technology can be used to gain efficiencies in design visualisation, construction stage services and post-completion maintenance. I’m writing the paper because AR’s potential for architecture and construction is huge, but local industry is largely unaware of its applications.
How will this research fit within your architectural work?
Currently, this research is running in parallel to my architectural work. While I am not using augmented reality in my day to day practice, I am hoping that this changes as I learn more about the technology and convince others of its benefits.
How easy or hard is it being a female in a male-dominated industry?
I would say it is neither ‘easy’ nor ‘hard’, but is something that I am quite conscious of. While I’ve been fortunate to have worked in equal opportunity practices for most of my career, there have been moments when I’ve suddenly realised that I’m in the minority during meetings or have had to deflect the builder’s professional attention from male colleagues when on site. I do think that the ever-increasing number of women in the construction industry - alongside initiatives like NAWIC and Parlour - will mean that gender will eventually become a non-issue.
How do you deal with the tough times at work?
I play the piano and escape into my own self-initiated projects, be they design competitions or writing - anything that allows me to be creative and presents fewer limitations on what is possible.
You say you are passionate about great design. What is great design to you?
I could write an essay on the subject and still not pin this down! To me, great design is timeless. It moves people, it is aesthetically appealing, fulfills its function irreducibly, and subtlely improves peoples’ lives.
What project are you most proud of?
That would probably be a tie between a recent competition win for a house design concept and a residential alterations and additions job on which I was project architect. Being involved in all aspects of the design process - from early concept design, to construction documentation and contract admin - alongside a great builder and fantastic clients was a terrific experience.