Intern profile: Aseel Elagib
Two weeks have gone by and boy, do I miss everything about working at Atkins. Be it the design and planning opportunities that come across my way for the sheer love of being busy or even just the sound of my clackety heels as they make frequent trips to the photocopier.
But before I move on to other intern conquests, I’d like to take a walk down memory lane back to Atkins, one more time. Here I’ll delve into a little more about my time with Urban Planning, and more so with a friend that I had made at work- a new intern to the Urban Planning Department, Aseel Elagib.
Into my last week at Atkins, the Discipline Head of Urban Planning, Brad- was kind enough to give Aseel and I, a crash training on the subject of Port Redevelopment through the process of site analysis and thereafter masterplan phase- implementation. Don’t you worry, I can start to explain these!
Our site was none other than the beautiful Port Sultan Qaboos, Oman’s main commercial port, home to even the Sultan’s ships. So really the first step we explored was the project vision and site context- that His Majesty no longer wanted purely a commercial port; and also that it had to be grand enough to stand to compete with the UAE’s superior ports. Another related step was identifying the possible stakeholders and getting in touch with them- such as the Ministries of Tourism, Fisheries, Transport and Communication, etc.
This continued to help us identify the basic urban fabric of the area- the heritage neighbourhood of Old Muttrah, navigation channels, security for the Royal Yacht, petrochemical exports, the touristy views of the Muscat Corniche etc, and accordingly suggest redevelopment strategies such as possible widening of existing berths, cruise opportunities, improving parking facilities in such a narrow, populated area, upgrading of the waterfront promenade, pedestrian allowances, you name it.
Indeed, lot of foresight goes into such a task, especially when you have the ultimate power to make or break a city’s economy with the uphill task of remastering its main port. Nothing can be overlooked, everything from economics to politics to climate must be considered. And one must never forget to always give anything the benefit of doubt, in other words, question any strategy before it actually gets implemented and affects the city’s population. For example, a few stakeholders wondered how the problem of our ultra-intense Middle Eastern heat could be solved. Our answer? Sunscreens for building façades, parking shades and vegetation can always do the job. A neat job, that too.
The masterplan– the statutory land use plan that guides the redevelopment of the project, the Port of Sultan Qaboos, in this case- is always subject to various modifications- not just because of design but how it turns out to mesh well with the rest of the existing landscape- and that’s why implementation for redevelopment has to happen in phases and never all at once! In our case especially, not just wave engineering needs to be considered but also how a modern interpretation of a local and traditional Omani flavour can be integrated.
Aseel, who grew up in Canada but is originally from Sudan, is in her final year of Urban Planning and Architectural Design at the German University of Technology here in Oman. Like Sarah Elnafie, she wished to be a dentist but an urban planning course in high school changed everything. She’s also gotten to visit the Port with Atkins and other sub-consultants. Here’s what she has to say about her time at Atkins so far–
“As the years went by, I noticed that my interest slightly swerved towards urban planning rather than architecture. I think this is because working on the urban scale doesn’t limit my imagination and design as much as in the architectural scale. I still love to do both, but urban got my complete interest. I’ve only worked in Atkins for 3 weeks now, and I love the team I’m working with so far. They’re dedicated, ambitious, and love the work they’re doing. Working with them so far has expanded my knowledge, and I learned from them that you have to be patient and driven at the same time in order to get the work done. On Monday the 21st of July, I went on a site visit to PSQ with the project co-ordinator,Dave. It was an amazing experience to be able to visit the site and to see for real what we’re working with. It was Atkins, and 6 other companies competing for the site, or teaming up. I met great people, and visiting the site deficiently gave me an understanding as to what was previously talked about in the master plan”.
What more can I say? I stepped into an Atkins to work for building design, but got to help out with redeveloping the city- so much more! Like Aseel, my attention too has been arrested greater with Urban Planning now. It’s things like these that make an internship even more rewarding and I can’t thank Atkins enough!