img(height="1" width="1" style="display:none" src="")

Rising Star: Sophia Malik

Pamela Buxton

Champion of innovative and sustainable bamboo construction for resource-poor communities

Architectural assistant, Arup   Part 1: 2018 Part 2: 2022

Judges praised Sophia Malik’s commitment to heritage reuse, which led to a collaboration with Yasmeen Lari as part of her MPhil research into adaptive reuse in Pakistan using low-carbon materials.

‘She’s one of the youngest applicants and she has been able to apply her research into hybrid bamboo-earth architecture undertaken in her studies through into practice and professional collaborations,’ said Nick Hayhurst. Betty Owoo added: ‘She’s very passionate and engaged. She has taken her interest and really done something with it.’

Malik aims to challenge misconceptions surrounding ‘poor man’s’ materials, such as bamboo, earth and lime, by finding ‘beautiful and accessible’ ways to build with them.  She was praised as ‘inquisitive, brave and creative,’ by her referee, Kim Qazi, a director at Arup, where she is an architectural assistant.  

As well as her MPhil, she attained a first-class MEng, BEng in architectural engineering and was a co-founder of the Decolonise Architecture group. After being awarded the Bamboo U x Kenzo Parfums Scholarship, she recently collaborated on the construction of two bamboo buildings in Bali.

  • One of Sophia Malik’s bamboo constructions.
    One of Sophia Malik’s bamboo constructions.
  • Visualisation from Malik’s thesis exploring heritage reuse.
    Visualisation from Malik’s thesis exploring heritage reuse. Credit: Sophia Malik
  • Thesis project drawing.
    Thesis project drawing.

What existing building, place and problem would you most like to tackle?
My thesis project! It is a very real problem in Karachi – there are thousands of unused, damaged stone buildings that need reusing. I want to be the first person to adapt an existing stone building with bamboo, and I have this beautiful vision of the very rigid, rectangular colonial buildings being repaired with a contrasting bamboo structure. The old and the new, the British and the Pakistani. It’s poetic, functional and low carbon all at once. 

See more RIBA Journal Rising Stars



PiP webinar: Architecture for Schools and Education Buildings

Are you a brilliant early-career design professional? We want to recognise your potential

Rising Stars is an opportunity for talented early-career professionals to be recognised

The 1957 modernist Dover Stage Hotel was designed by Hungarian-born Louis Erdi, one of the many refugees from Nazi-occupied Europe being celebrated at an RIBA conference

Dover Stage Hotel, 1957, Louis Erdi

Use of local craftspeople and sustainable innovations helped Jonathan Hendry Architects win planning consent for this 2024 RIBA East Midlands Award-winning house in open country

Local craftspeople help Jonathan Hendry Architects raise rural standards

Studio Partington used Dutch standard Energiesprong to retrofit 63 houses in Sneinton, in a scalable response to the climate crisis that has won it 2024 RIBA East Midlands Sustainability Award

63 retrofitted homes in Sneinton snap up 2024 RIBA East Midlands Sustainability Award