Meet the next-generation Malaysian architect, designer

Meet the next-generation Malaysian architect, designer

AYDA Awards winners represented the country to attend Harvard University Graduate School of Design’s Discovery Program

TWO local graduates, Dayana Aripin and Evva Lim Yee Fah, are raising the Malaysian flag high abroad after being selected for a prestigious programme at Harvard University’s Graduate School of Design (GSD) in Massachusetts, USA.

Both Dayana and Evva were selected to join the programme after being crowned champions of the AYDA Awards last year. First launched in 2008, the AYDA awards (previously known as Asia Young Designers Awards) is part of Nippon Paint’s vision to nurture the next generation of Architectural and Interior Design talents.

It serves as a platform to inspire students of these disciplines to develop their skills. This is done through cross-learning opportunities and networking with key industry players, as well as their fellow peers in the region.

Dayana and Evva’s design beat over 41,000 other submissions from across 13 countries in Asia. It was also the first time that both AYDA Award categories – Architectural and Interior Design, were swept by Malaysians.

For the Interior Design category, Evva’s project titled “Wo.Men” which takes its inspiration from the Chinese pinyin word “us,” envisions a haven or resource centre for women suffering from domestic abuse.

For Evva, the project is close to her heart as she had family members who were victims of domestic violence. During the pandemic, cases of domestic abuse soared which sparked the fire for her to design a project around this issue.

To bring the proposal to life, she conducted thorough research in Kuala Lumpur city centre. She interviewed women who suffered from domestic abuse as well as entrepreneurs and small businesses to understand their needs.

Once she had that data, Evva shortlisted three physical structures in the city to be used as a live model for her design. After running several site analyses, she settled on the historic RexKL building (previously Rex Theatre) due to its centralised location, access to various communities and the double-volume ceiling which makes the space feel more open and less compact.

“I have always believed that no matter what we do in life, we should always be good to others. Designers are not just decorators, but we create and present structures that emphasise feelings and emotions.
“Through the Wo.Men project, I hope to create an environment where women’s participation is valued and where qualities or the successes, they bring to society are respected and applauded,” Evva said.

Meanwhile, under the Architectural category, Dayana’s project entitled “Microhousing Within Heritage Context” aims to uplift the lives of her fellow Penangites in the face of rapid urbanisation and demographic changes within the local community.

Dayana said “the concept of providing revolutionary homes started with issues with high dense populations or lack of land resources to provide sufficient housing or affordable rent that has caused many young people specially to live outside city centres.

“Providing microhousing as urban development in pocket spaces of heritage zones would revitalise these spaces since it will bring more locals to live with the existing neighbourhood.”
It was never a bed of roses for either of them, as they had to run their projects during the height of the Covid-19 pandemic. Restricted access to traveling outdoors, lack of reference materials and limited communication times with their supervisors were some of the challenges they had to face.

Evva credits her achievements to her lecturer and supervisor of the project, Mr Muzzamil.

“When I joined college, I struggled a lot because I felt alienated and did not have many friends. My academic results suffered as a result, but despite that my lecturer Mr Muzzamil never gave up on me.

“He mentored me and was the person who suggested that I take part in the AYDA Awards. I would not be here if it were not for him,” she said.

Dayana and Evva have since formed a bond of sisterhood and friendship having gone through the AYDA Awards and exchange programme in Harvard University together.

After winning the AYDA Awards, Evva opened her own studio named Hwa Studios in Kuala Lumpur. Currently, she is designing subsidiary branches for Spectaclex, an optical retail outlet.

Dayana founded Mikro Studio upon graduating, which is focused on humanitarian architectural programmes and design along with commercial interior design. She has designed the first ever prototype for a mobile school in East Malaysia with plans to build and distribute it next year.

The Harvard GSD Design Discovery programme is highly competitive, selecting only emerging and mid-career professionals that are seeking to further their knowledge and skill within a single design discipline.

Participants enroll in either Architecture, Landscape, or Urban Planning and each module explore the potential of design to impact the built environment.

Successful participants receive a programme certificate, student evaluation, and produce a draft portfolio of design work that can be shared with design programme admission committees, potential design employers, clients, collaborators, or home school programmes for course credit consideration.

Yaw Seng Heng, the group managing director of Nippon Paint said, “We are proud of Dayana and Evva who have had the opportunity to attend Harvard University’s Graduate School of Design, one of the most prestigious programmes in the world.

“Through numerous experiential learning opportunities and once-in-a-lifetime initiatives, this educational outreach programme strives to cultivate the next generation of talents by pushing their ideas further beyond the norm.”

source – The Vibes

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