Female architect shines in male-dominated career

Architecture is a lifestyle to Nishi Sharma as she thinks that it is not just a career for men only but one for any confident and self driven person.

The architect who has experience of more than twenty five years in architecture and interior designing argues that these days more women are breaking the barriers to male-dominated careers.

These days, more women are breaking into male-dominated careers and in order to succeed, women need confidence, resolve, ambition and the perseverance to prevail over challenges ,” she notes, adding that working in the male-dominated career has not intimidated her at any point. “I have the same or even more, architectural knowledge as the men and I think a lot of it may have to do with personality and confidence and being able to clearly communicate your knowledge.”

Sharma says that Architecture is a dreamer’s manufacturing plant. “We build not only for present Clients but for those yet to come. She notes that technology is never going to replace the architect who is first an artist. “The schematic sketches of ideas for the basic shape and form of buildings that come directly out of the imagination is the art that is expressed with bulldozers, cranes and cement mixers,” she explains.
Sharma says that her inspiration to take up architecture and interior design came from her childhood dreams. “As a kid when I lived in New Delhi , India I was intrigued by the buildings and the way they were build. It’s a dream I had since I was a kid in class 5 to become an Architect,” she adds.

Sharma who is an associate member of the American Institute of Architects expresses the satisfaction and joy that her job brings to her life, saying that her family has supported her in her entire journey of design. “I express thanks to my very understanding family and friends especially my son who encourages me tremendously,” she recounts.
Commenting on the design of the Sameer Business Park, one of the buildings that she has designed Sharma says that she put the customer first while she did the design. “In the overall concept of Sameer Business Park we set the stage for the main character to be the customer. They find out something about themselves that’s meaningful; and they walk away wanting to come back there again and again to repeat this refreshing experience. It is an orchestration of the entire environment to tell a story,” says Sharma.

Before beginning our design, she says, we looked very closely at our clients’ objectives and our responsibility towards their bottom line. Our directive was to create something crisp, clean and fresh that would reflect our heritage, but at the same time be relevant for today’s more sophisticated consumer.

In Nairobi we also have the opportunity to be in a city with a lot of street retail and street experience. Our biggest effort at Sameer Business Park has been to create this experience and mood of street animation that exists in the city. This is characterized by a transparent storefront, a minimal color palette and simple fixtures that do not detract attention from the product. Barricades, ramps, stairs, street lamps, blankets of greenery generate the metropolitan mood and world-class showrooms and offices.

Sameer business park is a modern transformative experience of corporate office cum showroom complex set on 8.8 acres carefully designed for maximum flexibility to accommodate future changes. This allows the showrooms to adapt and hold people’s interest for longer periods of time.

The business park is approximately 500,000 square feet of office and showroom/retail space spread over five blocks.
Great attention has been paid to detail such as fully finished private washrooms ,tea rooms and lift lobbies. It has surface and semi basement parking The buildings are equipped with 100 per cent power back- up, provision for air conditioning, high-speed elevators, state-of-the-art communication, video surveillance and life safety equipment, all managed through a sophisticated Building Management System. Some other features are night scape lighting.
The site is a flagship, the reason to come here is because we’ve just done an awesome job.

The sealed concrete floors, steel and exposed roof structures, laminated glass fronts add to the urban/ industrial theme. In this case theming is defined as being this extravagant concept that is intended to make a statement in the market, not just the theme of what is being sold.
Nishi, who is also a Corporate Member of the Architectural Association of Kenya, a Member of the Council of Architecture in India and a fellow Member of the Indian Institute of Registered Architects says that as an architect, her work does not include just project design but also professional communications. My strategy, she notes, is to bring the strength of teamwork into full play in the design and construction process.

Sharma calls on fellow women to shun the mentality that architecture is a male-dominated career. “People sometimes avoid unconventional careers because they’re thinking about who works in the occupation and not what the job would actually be like. In fact, I think, skill requirements in male- and female-dominated occupations/careers are often more similar than you might expect,” she poses.

Sharma cites Frank Lloyd Wright as her role model . She says that the simplicity and the boldness of his designs attracts her. She says, “I believe he was the legend not only of his times but even today. His architectural style is expressive of the modern age. I also visited sometime back his home and Studio in Chicago which is a historic house museum.”
There is no gains without pains. The now established architect says that despite the joy that her career has brought into her life she has dealt with a number of challenges in order to get to where she is now. “As an Architectural student I worked very hard to get that “edge” over others. I worked day and night, often with little sleep, just so I can design the best project portfolio.

Sharma calls on those who intend to venture into architecture to consider good communication and be aware the developer or client of projects not only allocates the budget but also determines the hierarchy of the decision making process. Often, she says, it is the designer’s flexibility and receptivity to the collaborative notion which can determine the ultimate financial and aesthetic success of a project.

She further advises that those aspiring to join architecture should be extra observant.

We see the symbols of architecture everywhere around us The designing of the house, offices, malls and sports complex among others is a very creative job. Hence, those aiming to pursue career in architecture need to be very observant and analytical. The most important factors are always the relationship between architecture and the environment, as well as the balance of local culture and individual style, our personal interests as architects,” advices Sharma.

Other buildings that Sharma has designed include the on going interior refurbishment of a hotel in Nairobi ,interiors for a mobility solutions company in Nairobi with head office in Dubai, interiors for a Greek largest personal care products factory in East Africa -administration block, new international training centre, training beauty salon and executive floors interiors of Kenya ’s first wireless communications provider among others .

Sharma has a Bachelor of Architecture from the University of Delhi School of Planning & Architecture, India.

Quote: “Architecture is a very satisfying profession. You’ll get a tremendous sense of delight after your concepts on paper transform into real buildings While you study Architecture, you get to study various fields of human endeavor, including Art, History, Material Science, Physics, Building Economics, Engineering… all that can help improve the living environment of human beings. It’s a very diverse subject,” Nishi Sharma

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