"My learning extended beyond the academic."
Sitou is a Togolese American Architect, a modern Renaissance man passionate about all traits of creative and critical thinking. He grew up in San Francisco where he pursued an education in architecture, earning 3 degrees in Architecture and Urban Planning, Masters in Robotics / Digital Craft, Masters in Theory and History of Architecture from CCA. In 2017, being top finalist of the IE Architecture+ Prize competition, he was awarded a scholarship to attend the IE School of Architecture and Design in Madrid, where he completed his third Master’s degree in Strategic Design of Spaces.
He completed notable projects in fashion, art, social impact, rapid prototyping as a freelancer, and worked with respected studios such as MATSYS, Future Cities Lab, and Cheng+Snyder. Upon graduating from the MSD in March 2018, he moved to Amsterdam to work as a computational designer at UNStudio.
Sitou Akolly, Amsterdam (Netherlands)
Computational Designer at UNStudio
- Program studied
I am a computational designer at UNStudio, an architecture firm based in Amsterdam, Netherlands.
Being a computational designer at such an interdisciplinary office involves a significant amount of collaboration with all of our teams in terms of product, architecture, urban location, consultancy, and research. Accordingly, my day-to-day tasks are constantly fluctuating. Some days I could be working with our social impact team on the “Future of the playground,” and the next day I could be testing the application of a design software within our Virtual Reality space.
One of the projects I am currently excited to be working on is our design toolbar translation which requires me to learn and code in Python Within Grasshopper, a computational design plug-in for Rhino. Fundamentally, the office is run in such a way that collaboration is the epitome of our design language and culture. This enables a circular economy within the office, where “knowledge sharing” is the currency.
To tell you the truth, I don’t really know which skills brought me where I am (laughter). Seriously, I believe I fit in any workplace, it is often the soft skills that get us through the door over the hard skills. Hard skills could always be learned, evidently through technology, it is abundantly accessible. On the other hand, the right attitude such as passion, curiosity, and adaptability are indicators of how expandable a person can be for a team or an office’s culture. In our modern society where we are experiencing such a fast growth in all sectors of creativity and its related professions, there is a high value placed on identity and loyalty. I think having those soft skills makes it easier for someone to take a chance on you.
What I like about living in Amsterdam is that it is as close as I can get to San Francisco in terms of lifestyle. As a city, it is quite similar in its density, size, art culture, and ethnic diversity. Being a student of culture and place making, I am just appreciative of the opportunity to experience a culture other than my own. Sometimes, working at UNStudio feels like I never left San Francisco because it is quite international and cultured. It is an office which always seems to challenge itself, negotiating between design’s “ecosystems” and “narratives.” Empowering an ever-vibrant discussion about identity and practice; which I get the opportunity to take part in every day at work. I think that is pretty cool!
What has changed in my life after finishing the Master in Strategic Design of Spaces? Everything! (Laughter) For starters, the knowledge attained from the MSD inspired me to be a conscious and creative thinker; instilling a foundation for ethical entrepreneurship and design intelligence.
Furthermore, attending IE granted me a unique and diverse professional network, comprised of Faculty, Professionals in the field, and my former classmates who along the way became an extended family to me. Beyond the academic and professional setting, we somehow found ways to relate on a human level, which in my opinion is very inspiring because, as a result, while attending IE my “learning” extended beyond the academic.