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Excelling in architecture can be very challenging, especially as a fresh graduate, because of the distractions/challenges in our day-to-day work.
Oumkaltoum Boudouaya, a young architect (ENA rabat graduate in 2018), is now working with one of the most innovative architectural firms in the world: MVRDV.

In this Interview, Oumkaltoum shares her aspirations, influences, and creative challenges.

  1. After you graduated in 2018, you went abroad to study in Delft University of Technology. What did you major in? And how was the experience of living in Netherlands?

I did a master in Urbanism for 2 years. I was really in need of an experience abroad. I felt those six years in Architecture were not enough. And most importantly, the understanding of the urban scale was lacking in our education. Therefore, I decided to look for the best urban education possibilities and try my chances. I should mention also that I did not want to study in French anymore as I thought it was limiting the prospects.

Living in the Netherlands is an amazing experience. I bike everywhere and that is something I never thought could be life changing. I can even travel between cities with the bike. Although the gloomy rainy windy days make it hard to enjoy the biking or any  outdoor activity. But like the dutch say: there is nothing that cannot be fixed with good gear.

  1. What made you choose MVRDV? How was the interview ? (Was it different...)

I graduated last year, in September. During that time it was hard to find a job, especially as an international. I decided to focus on learning the Dutch language to give myself a small bonus in the market. That actually helped a lot in getting an interview.

After that, the process was quite straight-forward, two rounds of interviews where you try to convince the team that you are a good fit and that you have the capacity to learn and improve.

  1. Tell us about the last project that you worked on? (Challenges, particularity..)

I am working now on a competition in Luxembourg. It is a multiscale strategic vision to facilitate luxembourg’s transition towards zero-carbon society by 2050 and beyond. It is an interesting approach that takes a holistic approach to design and planning. The main challenge of this project is how to translate data into spatial design throughout the scales.

BEYOND LUX(E), A project by MVRDV

BEYOND LUX(E), A project by MVRDV

  1. Could you describe the architectural design process of MVRDV projects? (organization, tasks, team...)

I would say collaboration between skills, expertise internally within the team composition and the office, but also externally with consultants and other firms, brings richness, depth and accuracy to the design process.

  1. How has work with people from different nationalities affected your creative process?

It is extremely enriching. People with different experiences, study backgrounds, perspectives bring their inputs and that teaches you a lot about being open, respectful and empathic. In addition, it gives you direct access to local knowledge of many places and cultures.

  1. Mvrdv office counts among the most innovative companies in the world, what makes it special?

The People, the experimental freedom for design, the search for innovation and simplicity. I would say these are MVRDV’s best qualities that makes it quite special !

  1. Who are you influenced by?

I do not know if influenced is the right word. I would say inspired maybe.

I am inspired by my teammates. Working with very talented and kind people inspires me everyday.

  1. When is it, in your opinion, the right time to start your own office?

It is not my plan to open my own office for the time being. I think opening your own business goes far beyond the design skills and has to do a lot with the environment, social skills/contacts, management and financial abilities.

  1. What motivates you to become a better Architect/Person?

My own personal development growth. The main motivation that I try my best to stick to is to compare myself to my past self and see progress, no matter how tiny it is. It is hard to keep this in mind and to fall instead in the trap of comparing yourself to others.

And the second motivation is to know that I am building skills and knowledge to, hopefully, contribute to making cities better and healthier places for people.

  1. What skills are considered essential in order to work and excel in a big architecture office Like MVRDV?

Flexibility, creativity, motivation and openness are on the top of the list. You have to prove that you are flexible and adaptable to challenges. You have to be able to work with a team and enjoy the process.

  1. What softwares you mostly use in your day-to-day work?

I have to highlight that I am working with the urban studio and not in architecture. There is a slight different in software usage in that matter. I use Adobe-suite daily (mainly illustrator and inDesign), AutoCad and Rhino, GIS. Grasshopper is more and more in demand and I am still in the learning process. It is a powerful tool for sure!

  1. What’s next for you? (upcoming projects, a vision for the future…)

For now, I am focusing on strengthening my skills and finding my niche. I still don’t know yet but for the moment, I try to participate in different scales and phases of projects to find what I am good at and what I enjoy the most. Just taking it one day at a time.

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