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Brunei’s Future Designers – Muhd Arif Safwan and Nur Faizah Bte Hj Abd Rahim
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In continuation of our Politeknik Brunei focus, we return again this month to showcase the capabilities of the up-and-coming generation of Bruneian architects and interior designers, to whom the task of developing aspects of the Sultanate will fall to.



“I like to do this in my spare time. It has become a habit now.”

Really? This was the reply from BHC Magazine in response to Politeknik Brunei student, Muhammad Arif Safwan, who believe it or not, has a tendency to create his own assignments for the purpose of “keeping my skills sharp.”

With a big smile breaking out across his features, this 21-year-old architecture student points out, “Yes of course, I do enjoy playing video games and watching movies like anyone else, but, I also enjoy challenging myself when it comes to the quality of my work. I need to keep my skills sharp and that can only come from making extra effort.”

Hailing from a family of five children, Arif spent his teenage years studying art, and then design & technology at Maktab Science. This changed when one day he paid a visit to Universiti Brunei Darussalam, and upon viewing the Final Year Project exhibition by students enrolled there, then made the decision to pursue architecture. With a father who dabbles in commission carpentry, Arif receives ample support from everyone at home – be they creative or otherwise.

Whether he works on a solo or group assignment, for Politeknik Brunei, KHA Architect – where he underwent his six-month internship – or as part of his personal regimen for keeping his mind sharp, the process is detailed. Beginning with an initial concept, followed by drawing up blueprints for a floor plan, Arif goes on to create internal and external views of the project as both a sketch and a 3D computer rendering, and finally organising his work into a presentable format. “On average it takes me 2 weeks to finish these undertakings,” which reveals that he sticks to a fixed timeline, even in his free time projects.

Arif’s personality and natural born professionalism made him a perfect fit at KHA Architect, and vice versa. “I received so much good advice from the boss there. He used to tell me ‘Don’t be afraid to practice. Keep questioning yourself’, which I have tried to do.”

Some examples of his individual and group work over the past two years include: the design and creation of an environmentally friendly green lodge, a high-rise medical centre, a sports & E-sports hub, a beachside eatery reminiscent of American highway diners, a booth based on a commercial entity, a building using LSL metal sheeting, and many more.

“I usually think out of the norm,” Arif says before adding that he brings a notebook with him most places to jot down ideas based on what he sees. There you have it. The relevant stakeholders of Brunei’s construction industry would do well to pay attention to any individual who goes to the lengths that this young man does. Definitely a fellow worth keeping tabs on.



Initially shy, it did not take long for 20-year-old Politeknik Brunei Student, Nur Faizah binti Haji Abdul Rahim, to come out of her shell. Pursuing her studies in Interior Design, Faizah completed her six-month Internship with the Public Works Department (PWD) at JKR, where she picked up valuable experience.

“I had a great time working with wonderful people,” who provided her with ample opportunities to interact with the relevant stakeholders in the construction industry. “I had to deal with quantity surveyors, mechanical and electrical engineers, consultants, and architects.” With a glint in her eye, Faizah reveals that she got along with some architects so well, that they have extended her invitations to visit their homes if she ever needs advice on designs and projects.

“I have done a number of projects for Politeknik and actual clients that included designing the interior of a mosque, and a day care centre,” but out of all these examples, it is mention of the float that stirs up some excitement.

“Our float design got 1st place,” Faizah says excitedly, in reference to the float procession along the Brunei River, which was held as part of the 2017 Golden Jubilee Celebrations. “I was part of the team that worked on the conceptual design used by the Ministry of Development,” she says with a big smile.

When recalling some of the advice received during her time at PWD, she highlighted the need to go back to basics sometimes. Despite all the software available – Lumion, Photoshop, Sketchup, Revit, Auto Cad, and more – Faizah says “It is easier to think outside the box if you are manually sketching. As good as the software is, there are limitations at times.”

When describing her personal style, Faizah says “I prefer tropical architecture and maximizing the use of timber, while capturing natural elements such as wind and light. I am also very fond of straight lines and sharp edges,” and therefore tries to incorporate aspects of both. Designing a restaurant as part of her final year project, which she perceived as especially challenging, Faizah says “Personally I want to bring more natural elements within a structure. I want to bring the outside, inside. Using vertical louvres with an undulating design helps to adapt to sunlight intensity during the passage of the day,” and incorporating styles from Destruction Architecture, results in an interior wall similar in aesthetic appearance.

With a desire to learn a more before entering the work force, Faizah plans to enroll at Institut Teknologi Brunei in 2019 to continue her studies, having just missed the 2018 enrollment period. “I plan to get a part time job until I can go back to studying next year.” BHC Magazine approves of her constructive use of this time.

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