Graduating with a Master of Advanced Architectural Research Studies: Performative Design and Technology, Riffath Sultana Hidayathullah explored her passion of designing for vulnerable spaces through technology. In her final project, she explores cellular structural systems with responsive technologies and iterative design strategies that cater to environmental needs and human comfort to tackle floods and other natural disasters. Riffath is dedicated to designing disaster-resilient and humanitarian architecture, using it as a tool for social empowerment and impact.

Learn more about Riffath’s journey.

 Q: Tell us briefly about your background and why you chose your program at USC Architecture.

Born into a family of generational tennis players, I pursued my undergraduate in Architecture out of sheer curiosity and aesthetic pleasure. I was fervid about designing spaces that would make tangible differences in people's lives, particularly in vulnerable areas. My interest has always driven me to explore the technological aspects of designing such spaces or elements which led me to pursue my graduate studies in Advanced Architectural Research Studies in Technology here at USC. 

Q: What is the title and short description of your final thesis project?

Nexus Unbound explores cellular structural systems with responsive technologies and iterative design strategies that cater to environmental needs and human comfort to tackle floods and other natural disasters. Vulnerable places like Cianjur, Indonesia, underscore the urgency for resilient urban design. The thesis delves into designing parcels of the town that need to be replaced into an elevated town to eliminate the risk of damage due to floods. It aims to introduce resilient and customizable structures with ingenuity and precision. It focuses on structures accommodating disaster-hit victims with permanent housing with the ability to add temporary housing immediately following a flood.

Q: What have been your best experiences during your program?

The best experience has been the journey, having met inspiring and talented people, pushing boundaries, and delving into the realms of what can and will be. From orchestrating seamless collaborations between design teams to translating our ideas and visions into tangible designs, each project has brought its unique set of challenges and triumphs. 

Q: What are you hoping to pursue after graduation?

I am passionate about designing disaster-resilient and humanitarian architecture. I want to leverage design principles that not only withstand disasters but also serve as asylums and act as recovery spaces for vulnerable communities. Having collaborated with NGOs and with artists and architects in my undergrad, my sense of responsibility to use architecture as a tool for social empowerment and resilient buildings to leave a positive impact on people's lives in times of crisis and beyond has only deepened. 



Latest News

Congratulations to Nina Weithorn who is the Landscape Architecture Foundation (LAF) 2024 National Olmsted Scholar recipient. Chosen by an independent jury, LAF announced the 94 ...
Alison Hirsch, FAAR, has been awarded long-term research fellowship for The Huntington, a collections-based research institute that promotes humanities scholarship. Alison is one ...
From Houston to Savannah to, now, Los Angeles, Terrance Phillips graduated with a Master of Architecture with a Certificate in Real Estate Development. During his time at USC, ...
Graduating with a Master of Architecture, Michael Arias in his final thesis project transformed the simple concept of the line into a storytelling narrative, exploring how lines ...
From South Florida to Southern California, Juliana Torrez-Ortiz is a first-generation Colombian American student graduating with a Master of Architecture. Through her final ...
Graduating with a Bachelor of Architecture, Lauren Jian pursued her interest in design advocacy through her final project and on-campus involvement. She served as the president ...