Liva Sadovska graduated from WdKA's Spatial Design program in 2022, and at UNStudio, an Amsterdam-based Architecture Office, where she designs architecture and beyond. Her designs are driven by conceptual ideas and enhanced by AR/VR and parametric design. Liva believes in architecture that encompasses the rational, emotional, and functional aspects of human experience. With her creative approach and expertise in computation, she continues to shape the architectural landscape, creating captivating designs that merge functionality and beauty. In this interview, Liva gives an insight into her experiences at WdKa, the importance of having a strong work ethic, and her innovative architectural vision.
Graduation Work Interior by Liva Sadovska
How did you end up at WdKA?
"I knew that I wanted to pursue design studies, as I had a keen interest in art and its practical applications in everyday life through design. However, I was looking for a program that would challenge traditional norms and provide me with a fresh perspective. It was during this search that I came across WdKA, which immediately caught my eye due to its diverse offerings and the creative works produced by its students. I was seeking something new and innovative, an approach that went beyond the boundaries of classical design education. Being from Riga, Latvia, I wasn't simply looking for any program but rather something special that offered me a new challenge and perspective."
How did you experience your time at WdKA?
"My time at WdKA was very exciting. In the first two weeks, I was bombarded with numerous assignments and a wealth of new knowledge. Everything felt so fresh and invigorating. Adapting to a new city and embarking on a new educational journey was initially a bit shocking, but I saw it as an opportunity to fully immerse myself in the world of design, exploring various disciplines such as interior design, architecture, and product design. It was a time of reorientation and self-exploration as I delved into different facets of the field.
I dedicated a lot of my time to the academy, as I felt extremely motivated. The assignments and studio projects were thoughtfully curated, gradually guiding us from simpler objects to more complex spaces, buildings, districts, and even entire cities. With each progression, my knowledge and skills grew exponentially. I wasn't just responding to the given briefs; I was developing my own ideas and challenging myself in ways I had never done before. I began asking myself thought-provoking questions, igniting a hunger for more.
One particular project that stands out in my memory is the VR project. Prior to my studies, virtual reality was something I had only seen in movies. However, during my time at WdKA, I had the opportunity to work on a minor focused on AR and a major project with VR. This experience sparked a genuine interest within me, leading me to pursue an internship in the field. I followed my passion and grabbed hold of it with both hands. I found myself living in these projects, always curious about what I could create at the end of the line.
Overall, it was a transformative period that shaped my perspective as a designer and set the foundation for my career path in architecture."
What position does design have in your life?
"Design plays a significant role in my life, particularly within the field of architecture, which is my current focus. However, when I initially embarked on my design journey, architecture wasn't the primary aspect that captured my attention within the program.
Living in a city, you can observe buildings and experience a certain lifestyle, but the most fascinating aspect is when you start looking at design from a different perspective. It's about taking a moment to stop and truly see what's there. Each building encompasses multiple layers of input, relating to various aspects and individuals within the city. The complexity is immense, and I have an insatiable desire to unravel it all.
There's an art to things that may not be immediately visible. As you delve into the world of design, you come to realize that behind every completed building, there is a vast amount of work that goes unnoticed by most people. It involves the conceptualization, the initial ideas, and the transformation of a building into a piece of art.
To me, architecture is a harmonious combination of art and functionality. It's crucial to have a deep interest in both aspects. Architecture allows for the creation of spaces that not only serve a practical purpose but also evoke emotions and enrich the human experience. It's about finding the delicate balance between aesthetic appeal and fulfilling the needs of the people who will interact with the space.
Design, particularly within the realm of architecture, has become an integral part of my life. It's a constant exploration of the interplay between artistic expression and functional design, fueling my passion for creating spaces that inspire and leave a lasting impact on the individuals who encounter them."
What was your graduation project about?
"In short and dramatic words -it's "a fight against mortality". My graduation project explores immortalization of a decaying natural place. I took on the challenge of capturing the vanishing Dead Sea into architectural form, a place to visit and that thrives even as the land disintegrates and the waters evaporate for good. To me, this project represented the culmination of political journalism, artistry, and functionality. Interestingly, it unfolded into something unexpectedly political and economical. It brought to light phenomena on our planet that we often take for granted, but in reality, some of these things are slipping away at an alarming rate. I conducted an investigation to understand the reasons behind this occurrence, uncovering a tangled web of political passions, economic issues, and natural disasters.
I felt a strong desire to preserve a part of these phenomena and designed a project that would capture them in an architectural form for generations to come. I wanted to capture not only stories but also elements of nature. It began with a conceptual idea, employing the so called fuzzy logic approach. Starting with abstract values, I aimed to translate them into tangible architectural structures. The core of my research focused on understanding the meaning behind this transformation process. What does it signify, and what does the journey look like?
I sought to find the right framework for my project, one that would not only serve as an exhibition but also make a tangible contribution on political and economic levels. This was driven by my hunger to address real-life problems and combine them with artistic expression.
The entire process of developing my graduation project was a journey that I truly loved. It led me down a captivating rabbit hole, where I found myself unraveling one thread only to discover fifty more. The wealth of information I gathered throughout this exploration was incredibly fascinating. It was a project that unfolded during the midst of the pandemic, serving as an escape into another reality—one that introduced me to the unique perspectives and experiences of Middle Eastern countries."
Before graduating, you already signed a contract with UNStudio a dream of many Spatial Design students. How did you manage to work with them?
"When I began my studies, I had no idea that I would eventually end up at UNStudio. My journey was driven purely by my interests and passions. It was my fascination with virtual reality (VR) that initially sparked my interest in architecture. Through VR, I could already grasp the immersive potential of architectural design. In my third year, as I started searching for an internship, I realized that architecture was the path I wanted to pursue. I actively sought out visionary architecture offices, and UNStudio immediately caught my attention.
During the interview process, the space itself was incredibly inspiring, and I knew that I wanted to be surrounded by like-minded, hardworking individuals. I had the opportunity to do an internship with UNStudio, where I worked on Augmented Reality (AR) projects. This involved developing AR models and working on hybrid projects that combined physical objects with digital overlays, offering a richer and more dynamic experience. During this time, I even took on the challenge of learning to code, further expanding my skill set.
After completing the internship, I was offered the chance to continue collaborating with UNStudio on another project, this time focusing on virtual reality (VR). I also pursued a minor in architecture at TU Delft, which solidified my passion for the field. I immersed myself in various aspects of computational architecture through the minor program. However, I wanted to gain hands-on experience in classical architectural design, which wasn't the sole focus of the programme. I had to fight for this opportunity, but WdKA appreciated my interests and supported my decision. I temporarily paused my studies and worked on international projects at UNStudio, further honing my skills and knowledge.
Following the completion of my graduation project, I was thrilled to have the opportunity to sign a contract with UNStudio just a few months later. It was a testament to the growth and development I had experienced during my time with the company. Working with UNStudio has been an incredible journey, allowing me to delve deeper into the world of architecture and contribute to visionary projects alongside a talented team. I consider myself fortunate to have the chance to work with UNStudio, turning my dreams into a reality as I continue to grow in my professional career."
On what kind of project do you currently work at UNStudio?
"Currently, I'm working on a diverse range of international architectural projects at UNStudio. We tackle projects in various locations around the world, including the Middle East, Korea, and the Netherlands. The scope of the projects is quite vast, spanning different types of structures and scales.
In my role, I've had the opportunity to contribute to a wide array of projects. From stadiums and towers to skyscrapers and mixed residential blocks, I've been involved in designing and conceptualizing buildings across different scales. The project teams are usually assembled based on the specific requirements of each project. What's great is that I've had the chance to experience various phases of the architectural process.
I also engage in hands-on work, creating physical and digital models to visualize and refine the designs. I utilize computational skills to enhance the architectural process, and I've even had the opportunity to explore the design of objects and furniture that complement the overall architectural vision."
What defines you as a designer?
"As a designer, what defines me is my deep passion for creating healthy and inspiring environments. I believe in designing spaces that promote well-being and contribute to the overall health and happiness of people.
I strive to design things that ignite curiosity and inspire people to think beyond the surface. I aim to provide conceptual ideas that guide my design process, allowing for innovative and thought-provoking solutions. It's about going beyond what meets the eye and addressing multiple dimensions in my designs.
For me, beauty plays a significant role. I believe that design should encompass aesthetics that are visually striking and unique. But it's not just about creating something beautiful; it's about ensuring that functionality is seamlessly integrated. I value designs that work effortlessly and efficiently, like a well-oiled machine, serving their intended purpose with precision."
What are your dreams for the future?
"I aspire to continue collaborating with like-minded individuals and creating breathtaking pieces that resonate with the world. I want to design spaces that invite people to walk in and experience their beauty firsthand. I truly believe that architecture has power. The power to inspire anyone, to be a economic catalyst, to innovate how we live and build the world. We already give it power by linking our homes to our own identity, marking great cities by their distinct skylines, by building our schedules on getting around the city, just to name a few.
And yet there is more. Great architecture not only embraces our culture but also pushes it into exploration . I wish to create architecture that materializes this intelligence towards better living for all. I also strive to keep being inspired by the world, structures that we, the architectural dreamers, make up in those sketchbooks of ours.
Looking ahead, I envision myself pursuing a scientific and academic path, embarking on a master's program that allows me to delve deeper into the realms of technology and architecture."
What was the most valuable thing about your time at the academy?
"The most valuable aspect of my time at the academy was the freedom it provided. WdKA offered an incredible platform for self-expression, allowing me to define and boldly embark on the path I wanted to pursue. This level of autonomy and encouragement to think outside the box was unparalleled. WdKA goes beyond the conventional boundaries of other academies, challenging students to create something entirely new and fostering an interdisciplinary approach.
One noticeable difference between my experience at WdKA and that of students studying classical architecture was the conceptual aspect. While others tended to focus more on technical details, I felt comfortable and well-prepared in generating and exploring ideas about spaces and architecture. WdKA's curriculum instilled in me a deep understanding of the importance of conceptualization and enabled me to think critically about the broader vision of my designs.
I had the opportunity to expand my profile as an architectural designer by gaining insights into other fields and acquiring diverse techniques and skills. WdKA provided me with the chance to pursue a minor at another academy, allowing me to cultivate a broad background and differentiate myself as an architect."
What advice would you like to give to current WdKA students aspiring to pursue a career in architecture?
"My advice would be to dare to take it a step further and fully immerse yourself in the world of design. It's not just about having ideas in your mind; it's about living and breathing your designs. Follow your curiosity and let it drive you towards new horizons. Don't be afraid to share your ideas with the world. Take the leap, show your competence and knowledge, and make things happen. It's all about daring to go beyond the confines of your imagination and bringing your designs to life.
Reflecting on my own years at WdKA, I can confidently say that I experienced tremendous personal growth on all levels. Throughout my journey, I encountered numerous creative disruptions that led me down unexpected paths and exciting adventures. Each of these experiences added to my architectural journey and fueled my hunger for knowledge and exploration. WdKA provided me with the momentum I needed to excel.
I encourage students to seek challenges beyond the boundaries of the school. Embrace the opportunity for growth during your time at WdKA, and give it your all. Put in 250% effort, and you will discover more about yourself and your potential than you could ever imagine."