Sameena Sitabkhan - Creative Mind Podcast Episode 14

Creative Mind Podcast Episode 14: Community Architecture with Sameena Sitabkhan

“Architecture is not something that operates on the space of only one site,” says Sameena Sitabkhan, the Community Outreach Coordinator for the School of Architecture at Academy of Art University.

“Anything on a site is connected to all parts of the city, and to multiple people, and different things happening around it. In my mind it can be bench that creates public space. That is architecture to me.”

Sameena Sitabkhan

In this episode of Creative Mind, Sameena walks us through some of B.Lab’s projects in the San Francisco Bay Area, including community builds for the NCH Community Garden and Point Perch in Hunters Point, two projects that were aimed at revitalizing the lower income areas for the existing residents. It is a collaboration between students and the actual residents of the area, that gives both groups a chance to find out what is possible, what is needed, and what is wanted. 

This thinking is at the soul of B.Lab, the Building Lab design/build program in the School of Architecture. Their goal is to cultivate and foster a spirit of diversity, equity, and advocacy for future public practice among students. Sameena also points out,

“Architects don’t get a lot of opportunity to work directly with the client, there is always go betweens.” Such a community-forward venture has equal benefits for the students as well. “Our B.Lab students are working with the clients, with the neighbors, with the communities that are going to be using the piece that we are designing and building.”

Sameena points out that for students this is the core of all B.Lab projects. “We are stepping in on a community that doesn’t know us. Where coming in there and we are going to build something and it’s our job to be guests in that community and it’s our job to leave our privilege behind and just listen.” After this crucial step, the community engagement, students can utilize their skills as architects and designers to make something memorable and useful for the community.

If you are interested in hearing more from Sameena Sitabkhan about becoming an architect, check out this video.

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