Targol Khorram / Former President Architects for Peace & Landscape Architect at City of Stonnington  / 
‘So, now what?’

story / Interview / March 15, 2019

I was about to turn thirty and I thought ‘So, now what?’ Everything was good in our life, we had good jobs, a nice apartment. Is this it? Or should we challenge ourselves? That’s when my husband and I decided we should leave and see what other opportunities exist on the other side of the world!

I always wanted to live in Italy. The easiest way to go and live there was to apply to University. I love to study, so I thought why not? I left everything. It was difficult. For someone who has worked for several years, has a marriage, has a life, and then suddenly to leave everything and start from zero…and I couldn’t speak one word of Italian – nothing. But looking back at it, I wouldn’t change it at all. It’s one of the best things I did. I moved to Italy with the intention to expand my knowledge in architectural engineering but living alone in a small town in northern Italy thought me a lot about myself, who I am and who I want to be, it also made me realize that I am more interested in looking at cities at a macro level and the interactions between people and their built environment.

I’m originally from Iran. My first year I studied electrical engineering, but I just didn’t like it. I knew that I wanted to be an architect. I was accepted into an associate degree of architecture. Engineering has a very big profile in Iran and the job opportunities were plentiful. Most people said to me, ‘Why would you do this? Stay in engineering!’

My Dad was the only one who said ‘Don’t care about what everyone’s thinking and what they are saying. If you want to be an architect, go for it!’ He was probably the only one that really pushed me to just do it.

I’m very happy with my choice to work in architecture and urban design. You either love it or you hate it. You can’t force yourself to do the course. The first assignment where you stay up all night until morning…!

I moved to Australia after my husband decided to move to here as a skilled migrant. It was difficult as a migrant to find work in a new country. You don’t know anyone, and no one knows you or the work that you have done. You’ve lost your network and you have to start over again. After applying for several jobs, I realised that I may need to expand my knowledge of the culture and what was happening in my adopted country, rather than just applying for jobs. I think the best way to expand your knowledge in a new place is to do volunteer works and to go back to uni if you have the opportunity and I did both with support of my husband who always pushed me and encouraged me not to hold back.

I started volunteering in five organisations doing different things from supporting diaspora communities to teaching English and social skills to asylum seekers to supporting women in prison who wanted to get back to workforce but the highlight of my volunteering works was my involvement with Architects for Peace. I started as a volunteer, then I got into the steering committee and in 2015 I was elected as the President. It was a great opportunity to meet and work with like-minded people advocating for social justice in the built environment.

Now I work as a project manager at Stonnington city council in urban infrastructure. The projects that I work on are a combination of landscape projects, urban design, place-making and some master planning. I love my job. . I’ve always wanted to make a difference for many, not just for one person and I think I’m doing so by working for local government I like to stay connected to academic environment and that is why I try to teach at least one subject at the university of Melbourne each semester. Last semester I was leading a place making studio. It always motivates me to see the young generation whit their bright ideas to create better cities for future.

I strongly believe that we all know there are inequalities in workplaces especially in Architecture and construction; however, I think knowledge is power. If we want people to respect us we should have the knowledge and we should be confident in what we know. It’s a process of understanding and getting to that position in your life where you can say ‘I don’t know everything, that’s okay, but there are things that I do know and I’m confident about them.’

The house that I was living in in Iran with my parents, we didn’t have inequality. The roles were kind of blurry. No one had a traditional role as a mother or a father. My mother never told me ‘you can be what you want to be,’ but she was there showing me as a role model that I can, and I should There was no difference between me and my brother. My parents were there to support us challenge us and teach us equality. I think that gave me a lot of confidence in pursuing whatever I wanted to do in my life.

My brother and I are very close although we live far away. He’s in Paris and we are working on a project together that is about activating public spaces at night in Paris. It’s great to work on something we both love, and bringing the community together in a space that belongs to them, that they may not generally feel safe to use at night.

It takes a lot of strength and it’s not easy to leave your comfort zone. It’s difficult but it is worth it I think maybe that’s the advice that I have…it takes time. Patience and time. Accept that it’s a journey and you’ll get there, when you are ready. Nothing should stop us from following what we want to do.

 

We interviewed Targol some time ago now (we have been so snowed under with brilliant content, but too time poor to get it out into the world!) She came recommended through a dear friend of the blog and therefore we knew we were in for a treat. Targol has a quietly, powerful manner. Considered in her words, and yet self-assured enough to know how to make it in any new endeavor, through years of throwing herself at new adventures. How can one not be inspired by her drive to give back to the community that she takes part in? Working on our own blog, we understand the sacrifices that go into giving up ones time to give back. But also the great reward in making a difference. Targol showed us that equality is a pursuit and partaking in our community, the journey. We wish Targol the best of luck in her endeavors through 2019! J & D xx

Add the first thought on "Targol Khorram / Former President Architects for Peace & Landscape Architect at City of Stonnington"