Testimonial by Tazeen Hussain

Associate Professor | Head, Dept. of Communication Design
Indus Valley School of Art & Architecture Karachi, Pakistan

Architect Moyena Niazi was appointed as a consultant and executor of the revamp of the Department of Communication Design. This project was particularly challenging as Indus Valley School of Art and Architecture is a not for profit institution so funds for revamping or renovation need to be handled with care so as to maximise output keeping intact the aim of the school to impart quality education  with a keen focus on social responsibility and inclusivity. Moyena approached this project through a participatory process inclusive of voices of faculty and students using the space and delivered the School’s first ever socially responsible department, built to reflect the key concepts of the curriculum of the Department of Communication Design, innovation, collaboration and social responsibility.

Key to the revamp was the proposal to make the studios air conditioned so as to mitigate the influence and effects of heat generated while working on laptop and other technical gadgets, intrinsic to the practice of contemporary communication design. The growth of the digital spectrum has meant that students increasingly use electronic gadgets and machines in their studies. IVS is also situated near the beach and the dust laden winds are extremely detrimental for the hardware employed by communication design students in their education. This was a big shift in the philosophy of IVS that does not encourage usage of air conditioning of classroom/studio spaces as being in violation of the concept of social responsibility in a developing country strapped with limitations of resources including energy. Moyena proposed and executed a strategy based on ‘responsible consumption’. She installed a centrally controlled mechanism for the air-conditioning of spaces, and a meter to audit the units used so that students and faculty both be aware of their own consumption patterns.

The participatory approach employed by Moyena included sessions with faculty and students to co-develop spaces and furniture for their use. The spaces were also designed keeping the principle of multi use in mind. In IVS the spaces are constantly being adapted for diverse educational needs. At the end of the year the spaces become like a great exhibit space with students’ thesis works on display. The approach  worked particularly well for the department with students and faculty taking ownership of spaces and using them with responsibility. Also the foldable furniture allowed smart and efficient storage during exhibitions.

Overall the Department of Communication Design was energised with a new aesthetic through the three principles, recycle, reuse, and readapt.

Using our previous materials, she completely transformed the existing spaces at a nominal material and monetary cost. The overall ambience was uplifted, reworked and refashioned through material, texture, color and natural light giving the Department a stronger identity. The Department is a source of pride for us and it is with Moyena’s help that we were able to translate our vision into reality through a sustainable approach to designing interiors.