In the Proust’s short questionnaire style, AA questions architects about their profession, their projects, their vision of the future. Today, we meet the office Atelier masōmī, created by Nigerien architect Mariam Kamara.
Known for her work in the US and especially in her hometown of Niamey, Niger, Mariam Kamara is guided by the belief that architects have an important role to play in providing a better quality of life for millions, with solutions that come from within. Mariam is also a founding member of united4design, a global collective of architects working on projects in the U.S., Afghanistan and Niger.
Mariam Kamara received the Gold Award for the Regional LafargeHolcim Awards 2017 Middle East Africa, and will be the protégée of British architect Sir David Adjaye on the occasion of the Rolex Mentor and Protégé Arts Initiative.
Being an architect means…
Leading a schizophrenic, sleep-deprived life. And somehow it is a profoundly beautiful experience.
Your best architecture memory
Watching the first 20cm of wall coming up on my first built project. All of a sudden it was like being in an parallel universe where I was physically walking inside my drawn plans. It was an amazing first experience.
What would your perfect order be?
Any project with an excited and open-minded client.
The project you would have loved to sign
There are so many projects I admire greatly. Rather than wish I had signed them, I endeavor to learn all I can from them.
The project you are the most proud of
A Religious-secular center we are currently finishing the construction of in Niger. We call the project “Hikma”, or “Wisdom” in Arabic for what its program aims to accomplish.
Your job in 20 years
The one I have now.
The other profession you would have liked to practice
I used to be a software developer and spent years wishing I could be an architect. I became an architect, so now I am done.
Architects’ main challenges nowadays
The planet’s population is growing exponentially, cities are exploding, while resources are growing scarcer and economies are strained. As architects we will have no choice but to address these problems and produce some concrete solutions.
The next subject or program you would like to explore
I am very interested in the urbanism of growing cities in what we now call the Global South. There are so many subjects to tackle within that context. But in the end, it all boils down to the impossibility for these cities to develop following a disconnected Western model, and the necessity for creating new typologies that address their specific sets of problems realistically.
The advice you’d give to a young architect
Have no fear.
What do you want to transmit to your co-workers ?
Passion for work and optimism for what is possible.
The architect everyone should follow
David Adjaye for his extraordinary ability to always find a new path forward for the typologies he tackles.
An inspiring place
I love looking down on cities from an airplane. It provides a level of clarity that is very enjoyable. So I end up doing a lot of design work on planes…
The city where you feel the best
Your bedside book
Amin Maalouf’s “Identités Meurtrières”.
An object or a work of art you particularly love