The renowned La Biennale di Venezia in Venice, Italy provides a platform for architects and designers to share some of the most cutting-edge, thought-provoking, and significant work from around the world. At the most recent Biennale this past summer, there were 65 countries participating with pavilions, some included: Argentina, Croatia, Mongolia, South Africa, Switzerland, and, for the first time ever, Saudi Arabia. Norah Altwaijri, an architectural designer in our Los Angeles studio and Saudi native, joined Saudi Arabia at the Biennale as a docent. Here, Norah shares her whirlwind adventure through the historic landmarks of Italy, and her empowering return to the changing social landscape of Saudi Arabia:
How it all started: Jan 18, 2018
My story begins in Saudi Arabia, where I was visiting for my brother’s wedding. I was amidst what is called “the new Saudi Arabia,” where women were months away from driving legally and youth empowerment initiatives were gaining momentum. I decided spontaneously one afternoon to visit MiSK Foundation. MiSK was established by the Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman to develop and support leading youth initiatives. I wanted to go and introduce myself as an emerging professional Saudi woman, currently working at the global architecture and design firm Perkins and Will. I went in with the hopes to network with the foundation. Little did I realize at the time, I had opened a door to one of the best opportunities in my early career: They invited me to Saudi Arabia’s pavilion at La Biennale di Venezia to represent the country as a docent for a month!