Architect Salman Jawed is the co-founder of Coalesce Design Studio, Karachi. In addition, he is a visiting professor at the University of Karachi as well as the Indus Valley School of Art and Architecture, his alma mater. As a curator, Salman has participated in the Dubai Design Week in 2015, London Design Biennale in 2016 and Khat-Alchemy Festival in 2017. Sana Zehra chats with the hottest architect in K-town!

What made you pick architecture as a profession?

I had always been fascinated with built up spaces and buildings and felt that it’s also a medium of expression. I find it fascinating; I feel that I learn something new each day constantly working on different projects and challenges, which is really exciting for me.

Do you think your background and upbringing shaped your design ethos?

I didn’t specifically have an art background but always enjoyed art as a subject in school. I grew up in a joint family system with my grandparents and uncles all around me. My grandfather especially had a lot of influence in my life and I feel I get my creative gene from him and also the travel bug.

Do you feel architecture should change from country to country?

Architecture does vary from country to country and different regions. It needs to be vernacular and able to respond to the context. It is one of the most important aspects of a good design, how it responds to nature and the natural factors.

Do you think most of the architects are now more concerned with imagery than quality?

I feel that it has a lot to do with awareness and what architects are perceived as. I believe architectural services here should be perceived here as a necessity rather than a luxury, which will lead to more impactful designs in Pakistan.

How has your work evolved over the course of years?

I have been working since 2006 and started freelance while I was studying. My work has evolved quite a bit as I got to learn a lot during these years particularly working full time after graduation. I cofounded Coalesce Design Studio in 2008 and along with my partners we have really evolved our design aesthetics and continue to do so.

Your work is complex. How do you get the work done with the local labour force?

We are at times really restricted with the lack of professionals and construction companies but it also allows us to train and develop teams with whom we can work. The overall level of construction is improving and I feel that it will keep on improving with time.

Do you think that there is a globalized trend in architecture that everyone follows?

Yes, there are a lot of trends that people tend to follow but it can be more suitable for interiors and styles. Architecture has to withstand the test of time, like old monuments and buildings that still look timeless.

Which projects have given you immense satisfaction so far?

I honestly cannot really select one as I have had the privilege of working on a lot of interesting projects. But this year we will be participating at the Venice Biennale and there will be a National Pavilion of Pakistan there, a historic moment for our country. It happened because of our company and our hard work.

What projects are you currently working on?

I am currently involved in many commercial and residential projects. As a company, we are also displaying our product designs at international exhibitions. I also like to pass on my design experience to students at the Indus Valley School of Art and Architecture where I teach.

On the lighter side…

How would you describe the colour red to someone blind?

I would describe heat or lying down facing the sky with your eyes shut.

Funniest thing that has happened to you recently?

Funny things happen to me all the time, I can think of a lot of things but would rather not share it here 😉

Ever experienced love at first sight?

(No comment)

Who has it easier: Men or women?

Men have it easier, especially in my field. I feel that women have to work harder at times but I know a lot of women and a lot of my friends who are setting examples for others to follow.

Most embarrassing comment ever received?

So are you “Architecture?”

Name one commonly held belief you find offensive?

Tall people are not that smart.

One thing that overwhelms you?

The ocean

Obstacles you are currently trying to overcome?

Trying to create a more professional approach to architecture and construction.

Message for people wanting to follow their dreams?

Dreams don’t work unless you do.

Photography: Ali Khurshid

“This year we will be participating at the Venice Biennale. There will be a National Pavilion of Pakistan there, a historic moment for our country”


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