Grad profile: Breaking new ground in architecture

Irfaan Kasmani, Architecture and Planning

- May 31, 2022

Irfaan Kasmani. (Provided photo)
Irfaan Kasmani. (Provided photo)

This article is part of a series focusing on the grads of the Dalhousie Class of 2022. Spring Convocation runs from May 24 to June 3 in Halifax and Truro. Read all our profiles here as they are published, and for more information visit the Convocation website.

Math is what first drew Irfaan Kasmani to the study of architecture.  

“I was very interested in the math and design aspects of architecture. In my school growing up, we had a design class where we used to build small shelves. I enjoyed that class the most.”

Irfaan came to Dalhousie from Kuwait in 2016, graduating with a Bachelor of Environmental Design in 2020. This week, he adds a Master of Architecture (MArch) to his list of achievements.

“I'm an international student. Dalhousie actually showed up at my school all the way in Kuwait with a little kiosk advertising the university. The architecture program seemed to fit the ideology of what I'd want to do,” he explains.

“We have quite a few people from my very school in Dalhousie, I think because they showed up at that conference and now we have a whole group here.”

New opportunities

The transition to Dalhousie opened new doors.

“It was great. Canada is such an accepting place. A surprising amount of diversity and freedom to express who you are. It was just absolutely amazing coming here.”

Irfaan knew from the beginning that his pursuit of architecture would evolve into a graduate degree.

“The architecture program first attracted me to Dalhousie, specifically the integration into a Master program. The first two years of the program is in general studies, and I saw that as a huge opportunity to get knowledge elsewhere versus jumping right into architecture. Dalhousie is one of the very few universities thatoffers that.”

Exploring his roots

During his MArch degree, Irfaan chose to focus on his roots, exploring the development of informal settlements in Kenya.

“I’m from Kenya. I was born there and spent two years in Kenya as a baby before I moved to the Middle East. I did my thesis about Mombasa, where I go back every summer to visit my family,” he says.

“My thesis is about informal settlements. Finding ways for communities to come together without regulation from government entities, which tend to slow the process. Also, on ways to put tools into the right people's hands and use the land appropriately to build spaces for the people.”

Set up for success

Dalhousie’s School of Architecture offers students the chance to learn hands-on through co-op positions. For Irfaan, this included stints at Parkin Architects Limited in Toronto and Alexander Wilson Architect Inc. in Kingston, Ontario.

“In total, I got a full year of work experience before finishing my degree. That allowed me the confidence to apply to jobs. Compared to a lot of my peers at other universities, it's a lot less stressful,” Irfaan says.

“The program is amazing. The way they adapted to COVID is so great. I want to give our hats off to the School of Architecture. The profs over there were just so supportive of everything. It really felt like they just wanted us to succeed.”


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