Undergraduate Research Explorer
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Al-Sehail Noor

Noor Al-Sehail

Noor is a fourth-year student in the Faculty of Architecture, Landscape and Design, specializing in Architectural Studies (Design Stream) with a minor in Visual Studies. Noor recently participated in the Laidlaw Scholars Undergraduate Leadership and Research Programme

Under the supervision of Professor Brady Peters, Noor’s research delved into applying biomimicry, a design method that mimics strategies found in nature, to develop sustainable refugee shelters for populations displaced due to climate disasters. Analyzing current refugee shelters, including their construction, requirements, and limitations, the results led to the creation of a framework that offered guidance to designers and refugee organizations on effectively integrating biomimicry into the design of shelters. Implementing the framework through the use of computational techniques, the research concluded with the proposal of a biomimetic shelter prototype to house those displaced in the Davao del Sur region in the Philippines.

One of the challenges Noor encountered was in how to articulate her vision to design a biomimetic refugee shelter. Professor Peters, Noor’s research supervisor, encouraged her to think beyond conventional boundaries and consider how her work could be a catalyst for change. This allowed Noor to gain deep sense of purpose and see how her project could have real-world impact. The process in general required shedding preconceived notions and embracing the innovative potential of the natural world.

Through this two-year research experience, Noor honed her skills by engaging in precedent analysis, which involved an in-depth exploration of various existing refugee shelter designs. This process required aggregating large amounts of data, such as spreadsheets, photographs and site maps, to translate different types of shelter into architectural drawings. Further, Noor honed her ability to translate theoretical concepts into practical solutions, exemplified through the creation of a biomimetic framework tailored for refugee shelter designs. This approach addressed challenges such as structural integrity and insulation, enabling Noor to directly apply my research findings to resolve real-world design problems.

Through her research experience, Noor realized that the process from proposal to research results is certainly not straightforward. Even at the stage of the proposal things, Noor found the project was constantly in flux as she became more familiar with her research topic. Indeed, Noor learned it’s important to be flexible and acknowledge early on that some amount of the research period will most likely be dedicated to investigating additional avenues for research. this acknowledgment has proven invaluable for Noor as it opened up new and interesting research pathways. For instance, it allowed Noor to develop a theoretical framework for her research to such a significant extent that she was invited to present her findings at the WSBE24 (World Sustainable Built Environment), a conference hosted by the UN Environment Programme. 

Noor hopes through her research that she can contribute meaningfully to the ongoing discourse surrounding architectural design and its environmental and sustainable implications.

Research Type(s): Research Fellowships / Studentships, Summer Research Programs