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Video: Irena Savakova | transforming the urban fabric

In our Design Shorts video series, Irena Savakova discusses her fascination with the urban fabric of cities and the architectural experiences of their inhabitants, made better by design.

Transcript of video:

Architecture is not just placing a building into a context, but it’s also what part of context you’re affecting as a designer, and how, through the design decisions that you make, you make the place better.

Every move, every change in geometry, results in how people will experience the world around them.

And that’s what design is. You orchestrate visions, ideas; you help interpret what an idea is; and you convert it into a meaningful form that actually shapes the world around us.

Being able to orchestrate experiences and what dreams are made of – that’s humbling and exceptionally exciting.

Architecture always has meaning, and in the 21st century, I believe we’re discovering again the essence of heritage and the essence of character.

We’re much more open to accepting a variety of layers of different architectural styles to coexist.

That’s what creates texture in our cities, that’s what creates vibrancy in our cities, and that’s what allows for placemaking – how you place the right layer that belongs and that becomes intrinsic to everything else that’s around it.

I truly believe that we live in absolutely amazing times. We have entered a time when the essence of simplicity, proportion, and balance embedded in modernism is something that will remain with us.

At the same time, the technology that can affect the environment that we’re creating is beyond mesmerizing.

Pretty soon we’ll be 3D printing the world around us, and we’ll have the flexibility to employ geometry that would have been considered only reserved for the realm of sculpture. And that’s quite liberating, that’s quite exciting.

Architecture is constantly moving forward. We have to be eager to learn constantly and desire to keep solving puzzles, one puzzle at a time, one day at a time.

I find this, I think the essence of what makes me an architect.

About the Author

Irena Savakova is an award-winning design architect with 30 years of experience. She began her design career in Bulgaria, and has practiced the European Union and the United States. In addition to leading the Washington, D.C. studio of LEO A DALY, she teaches and mentor architecture students at the University of Maryland, and serves as a peer reviewer for the General Services Administration’s Design Excellence program. She can be reached at