Interview with Sajjad Navidi, Mahya Mousavi Sadr and Elham Bahadori the team of FLight - 2022 global winner in category Daylight Investigations

Melissa Gibson

14 Dec 2022


Following the announcement of the global winners of the International VELUX Award 2022, we talked to Sajjad Navidi, Mahya Mousavi Sadr and Elham Bahadori students from University of Art, Tehran in Iran and the global winners in the category of Daylight Investigations.

The team tell us about their experience of working with the theme of daylight, its contribution to their professional development and what their is message to the students preparing to participate in the next cycle of the competition.

Can you describe to us your experience of developing your project and about working with the daylight as a theme?

Sajjad:  Light is a vital resource for human life. This can be understood when the electricity in your house is cut off at night. The VELUX competition was an exceptional opportunity for us to look at this global concern from a different perspective. We knew that many people in the world are deprived of lighting at night. We sought to investigate this issue in vulnerable communities with a humanitarian approach. Among them, refugee camps can be mentioned. Most of these camps are without lighting during the night. Darkness and lack of light cause insecurity and endanger the lives of war-torn people, especially children in the camps. Inspired by the popular children’s outdoor game, we designed a system similar to the wings of a bird and an airplane, which could store sunlight during the day and when the children are playing with a solar panel placed on it, and provide lighting for them at night. This would improve their quality of life and reduce risks for children at night. All we did, was just an effort to bring back the children, the actual light of tomorrow, to a normal life.

Mahya: The more we have something, the less we may know its value. This is I think true about natural light. When we wake up in the morning or when we are at work or anywhere, we have light. It could be natural or artificial. So that’s why I had never thought deeply about light and what could be done by it. This competition made me start thinking about what light is and how we use light in our lives. It was surprising for me because I realized our life highly depends on light but we even don’t know it! One simple example is that without natural light, we can’t see anything. At this point, I found out how light can be powerful and if it has solved so many problems so far, it can solve some other problems too. The ones we don’t know yet, and this is what needs our creativity just like the way VELUX competition asked us.

Elham: Actually from the beginning, we wanted to solve a problem, no matter big or small, by the use of daylight. We spent so many days searching about the global and local problems caused by lack of daylight, working so many days on different ideas, and at last, we found that war and its effects are the most destructive phenomenon historically and currently. By searching more and more we understood lack of light is a big problem in refugee camp that cause terrible effects on children. So we decided to bring back light to refugee children to provide a better atmosphere and near-to-normal life for them.

“Light is a vital resource for human life...This competition was an exceptional opportunity for us to look at this global concern from a different perspective. "

Tell us a little bit about collaboration you had within your team, and how you collaborated with your teacher?

Sajjad: The VELUX competition was a fantastic opportunity for us to create a great teamwork platform. I can say we really did teamwork. All members of the group actively participated in all design and ideation sections. We talked for hours and days about the smallest issues of the project. All members of our team were committed and responsible and performed the tasks assigned to them accurately. We were a great team.

Mahya: I can say that the main key to our success was that we knew well how we should work in a team. I remember in the beginning, while we were trying to find the main concept, we came up with many ideas. All different from each other. I have to say that it was very good because we each had a different way of thinking and looking at the problem from various perspectives. But on the other hand, it was difficult to choose one. As I said we had the ability of team working so after many useful discussions, finally we had an agreement on one concept. The one we all loved. Luckily those long hours of discussion helped us know each other’s way of thinking well so that in the rest of the work, in contrast to the beginning part, everything went faster. we somehow faced fewer disagreements or if we did, we talked about it together and solved it in a way that we all were pleasant. I do admire my teammates for such good team work.

Elham: At first, we became teammates in a university course haphazardly. But then Mr. Navidi suggested the competition to us and we became a VELUX participant. I think we had wonderful cooperation and teamwork. We discussed every single detail and we did not pass a subject unless all of us agreed. On our way, we used our teachers’ advice which helped and motivated us.


What have you gained professionally, by doing this competition?

 Sajjad: This competition was a great opportunity for us to better understand our place in the architecture community. We practiced how to face challenges and look differently at solving problems in design. VELUX gave us the opportunity to gain new methods and skills in the ideation and design process by seeing different projects and the different views and thoughts of the other participants, and this will help our professional future a lot. After this competition, we received many job opportunities from famous companies around the world. VELUX was a great platform for us to be seen.

Mahya: During the process of this competition, as an architecture student, I learned a lot about light and its physical and mental effects on human lives. Also seeing the projects of others students proved to me that for one subject, there are always so many answers and creativity never ends!

Besides, meeting different students from all around the world made me know about their educational system and the way architecture is in their countries. This helped me to have a better vision of what is going on in the world. And finding different lovely architecture friends from different cultures was the best part of it.

Elham: Cultivating the spirit of teamwork was one of my achievements. We had many group projects in university but this was a special experience. We dedicated ourselves to this project and we got the result. Also, by spending 4-5 month working on daylight, I consider the value of daylight more in my future project as an architect.

“After this competition, we received many job opportunities (...) VELUX was a great platform for us to be seen."

Do you have any advice for students considering participating in the 2024 competition?

Sajjad: The VELUX competition is one of the most prestigious competitions in the world, which gives students from all over the world an exceptional opportunity to share their work. You will learn a lot during this competition and you can improve your skills. You have the chance to be seen, present your project, and be evaluated by the great juries and you will also have the chance to network with the great architects of the world. VELUX can be the beginning of entering a new phase of your career.

Mahya: The process of this competition is time-consuming. You may need to forget doing your university projects or you may even decide not to go to some of your classes. You may feel tired and hopeless in the middle and ask yourself: “What am I doing? Is it REALLY worth putting this amount of time into one competition?!” And we are saying yes, it’s worth it. Just do not think about the result. Go ahead and enjoy your time. You will see how much you have made progress in the end.

Elham: I suppose teamwork and hardworking is the key to success and the VELUX competition is worth it to work hard and spend so many days to find an idea considering daylight.