The Annual International Berkeley Undergraduate Prize for Architectural Design Excellence 2020
Berkeley Prize 2020

Poonam Parikh and Khushali Haji - Bio

Khushali Haji: Through the course of my studies in Urban Design, I have been fascinated by how cities, people and networks that constitute this field and the environment that they are a part of, work and impact one another. I am interested in understanding how these smaller interactions lead to the larger somethings and how urban design becomes a catalyst in affecting their trajectories. My academic projects have largely dealt with environmental and social issues, and I am interested in understanding how design as a process can speak truth to power, in a layered urban context of politics, socio-environmental vulnerabilities, histories and cultures.

Poonam Parikh: Nothing fascinates me more than the joy of building. I distinctly remember how I as a child owned this one book titled 'Famous Places' that was simply my most cherished possession. On many evenings after school, I would sit for hours flipping through it. You turn through the first couple of pages and, voila!, the majestic Palace of Versailles would be staring you in the face. Turn through a couple more. and there you stumble upon the grandiose aura of the Taj Mahal or the massive Colosseum. What better experience than dappling in such rich architecture merely pages apart?

I suppose that is when architecture truly happened to me. As I would travel through the city on my mundane routine, elements of the built environment ranging right from the compact timber homes of small communities, to the mammoth presence of large colonial buildings, everything fascinated me. Architecture was one experience whose scale engulfed me and I thoroughly relished it.

Years later as I sit on my desk scribbling diagrams in my sketchbook and figuring out the scale of a courtyard, this fascination hasn't dimmed one bit. During the time that I find off courses at college, I run a university level Sketching Trip Club where I organise group trips to buildings and spaces of architectural interest where students can express the spatial essence of these places through the medium of sketching. Apart from that, I am an avid reader having held a keen inclination towards English Literature since High School, also holding a few research papers to my credit. I enjoy painting, ceramics and simply anything to do with the Visual Arts. I am also trained in the contemporary and jazz dance forms, always spotted performing at all university fests.

In essence, life to me is one creative journey, be it disguised as architecture, literature, fine art or the performing arts, and I simply revel in every moment of it.

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Ms. Poonam Parikh, C.E.P.T. University, Ahmedabad India
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