Aisha Abubakar sitting down and smiling at the camera

ArchitectureAisha Abubakar

Why did you choose to study at Strathclyde?

I applied to Strathclyde because it was one of the UK’s most prestigious universities and it offers a streamlined programme associated with people-design-planning-environment studies in the field of architecture in its urban design unit, and offers it at the level of PhD research.

Interestingly, amongst the other schools I applied to, I only found supervision here for the topic I had developed a passion for: advancing locally focused and inclusive agenda of engagement to augment and improve ongoing management approaches to urban slums and overall wellbeing in our Developing Region cities.

What do you think about the University?

It’s an engaging and interactive environment that encourages and supports intellectual, personal, and social growth. And this quality of the University is not just limited to the facilities and spaces, but also to the diverse and multicultural staff and student community. Here, people hold open doors for you, and even wait for you to pass through with a smile!

Why did you choose to study a PhD in Urban Design?

I spent some years working in the public buildings department and architectural research unit in the Abuja city Federal Capital Development Authority back home in Nigeria. In the course of this public service and living in Abuja city, I got to experience slums and realised that the approaches taken to manage them were not the most effective or humane. So, when the opportunity arose, I sought to learn more about them, and then explore ways to actively channel positive change to their policy approach in general and improve the status quo, and to advance both the academic discourse and practice.

A PhD seemed to be the most appropriate platform for this, and the Urban Design Studies Unit takes a multidisciplinary approach to understanding urban spaces, space use, and associated issues to channel positive change in cities.

Aisha Abubakar standing and smiling at the camera

What do you like most about your studies?

I have come to learn and explore new and interesting urban concepts, and this was quite exciting for me.

However, the most exciting part is the opportunity to present a novel idea, of linking slums and city prosperity in an intervention agenda for slum and city improvement. This is presented in a way that is very philosophical and within a framework that has real-world application with the potential to fulfil key requirements needed to augment urban slum management in Developing Regions – a method to help stakeholders define slums in an inclusive, comprehensive and dynamic way, and through this, to help them take action to improve and monitor conditions in slums in an inclusive, responsive, adaptive and progressive way.

What are your plans after graduation?

I intend to continue work on the outcome of the PhD in a post-doctoral position to further streamline it for application in the field. I will perhaps do this in conjunction with UN-Habitat or other relevant organisation, with a view to a career in urban management consultancy and academics also.

What would you say to anyone thinking of coming to Strathclyde?

Don’t think twice. Give it a go, because it meets and exceeds your expectations.

Is there anything else you'd like to say?

One of the most amazing aspects of the University is the quality of staffing and their passion and commitment to their work and to students.

My most unforgettable experience is working with my supervisor (Dr Ombretta Romice). I was continuously encouraged and supported to work within pragmatic outlines, to trust my capabilities and to think ‘outside-the-box’ to identify practical paths of engagement in the research. I was taught to invest in answers and ideas that are relevant and present them in creative and engaging ways. I learnt that in this work, the intended reader and user of its outcomes, and its sustainability are just as important as its development.