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AUS architecture graduate turns to landscape design with award-winning Results
Only a few months since her graduation from the College of Architecture, Art and Design (CAAD) at American University of Sharjah (AUS), Maitha Al Hammadi is being recognized for forging her own path as she applies her Bachelor of Architecture degree to the field of sustainable landscape design.
Launching her career as a landscape designer with global infrastructure developer Parsons, Al Hammadi said she realized before graduation that she wanted to do something beyond working in traditional architecture practice.
“The architecture program at CAAD had a focus on how to design buildings formally and materially, however some instructors’ design methods came from a respect for the landscape. Being exposed to this, I found my personal interests growing towards landscape architecture and decided to give it a try,” she said.
AUS is number one in the UAE and among the top 200 universities globally for architecture and the built environment (QS World University Subject Rankings, 2023). A recent symposium celebrating CAAD’s first 25 years highlighted the flexibility of graduates who, like Al Hammadi, have gone on to make contributions in areas beyond their undergraduate major, applying their CAAD education across many fields.
Earlier this month, Al Hammadi won the 2022 TotalEnergies Sustainability Award, which recognizes young Emiratis in the fields of sustainable design and architecture.
Her work, “Agro-Industrial Tourism”, which she produced under the supervision of Associate Professor Jason Carlow during her final year of studies in the CAAD, imagines a sustainable destination between Etihad Rail and the UAE’s agricultural setting, merging agriculture, tourism, soil and aquifer treatment, and utilizing waste from the UAE’s dates industry.
Al Hammadi reflected that during her five years on campus, sustainability was a common thread throughout her university experience. In 2021, she and fellow CAAD student Afra AlFalasi won first place for their original design for a sustainable floating school in a flood-impacted area of Bangladesh, as part of the Climate Change Challenge initiated by the Fatima bint Hazza Foundation.
“I would say that sustainable thinking was something I got out of my educational experience at AUS. We had sustainability-themed initiatives taking place on campus all the time and sustainable approaches in design were always part of the discussion and conversation in architecture studios,” she said.
“This equipped me for my current job, where sustainable design is definitely taken into consideration and is encouraged wherever relevant and applicable, given that the construction industry makes up a large portion of pollution in the atmosphere,” she said.
Jason Carlow said CAAD is the ideal choice for students who aspire to a career in design and also want to be part of an institution that prioritizes sustainability.
"Maitha’s project was sophisticated in thinking about how economic and cultural ideas for sustainability are combined with respect for the UAE's landscape and agricultural ecology," said Carlow.
“As part of the university’s sustainability agenda, all AUS students are equipped to do this—to think critically about sustainability in both academic and extracurricular activities, regardless of their major. For architecture students like Maitha, AUS offers incredible opportunities to apply sustainable thinking to the future of design and planning,” he said.
For more information about American University of Sharjah, its programs and sustainability priorities, visit www.aus.edu.