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Architectus
Vale Emrana Sikder

Vale Emrana Sikder

The Architectus team knew Emrana as a talented architect, a warm colleague and a friend. She was energetic and took pleasure in working as a team. We appreciated her as a graceful and humourous person and considerate designer who asked the right questions and found satisfying solutions to problems. To say that Emrana positively impacted our studio culture is an understatement.

To our great sorrow and disbelief, Emrana passed away on Monday, 21 February 2022, in Sydney, not long after she had stopped work to undertake treatment for an acute form of Leukemia. Over the past week, trying to process this fact has been extremely challenging, and she will always hold a special place in our collective memory.

I have fond memories of meeting Emrana. When I interviewed her for an Associate position at Architectus in early 2016, it was immediately clear that she knew who she was, what she stood for, and what she wanted to achieve. It was an instant yes from me, which was a great decision. Emrana made a wonderful addition to our team and business. She naturally progressed to Senior Associate in 2019 and was on the path to becoming a Principal. Being Emrana’s mentor over the past three years is something I hold dear. It has been a great joy to see her do excellent work. And as I think back over our many enriching conversations – not just about work, but also family and life in general – and I can happily say I learned as much from Emrana’s sage advice as I hope she did from me.

Born on Thursday, 25 November 1976, in Dhaka, Emrana spent her formative years in Bangladesh. In 2004, she moved to Australia and set up her home in Marsden Park, Sydney, with her husband, Masud, and, when he came along, their cherished young son, Zarar.

We all carry identifying labels that go some way to describing who we are. Defying her traditional cultural expectation of being a wife and homemaker, Emrana worked hard to also become a successful architect. Knowing that design was her path from a young age, Emrana graduated in 2004 with a Bachelor of Architecture from the Bangladesh University of Engineering and Technology in Dhaka. Then, she moved away from home and faced the challenges of being an international student in Sydney and proudly earned her master’s degree in Sustainable Design Science from the University of Sydney in 2006. Emrana carefully juggled her career and motherhood, became a Registered Architectural Design Practitioner and held her ground in the male-dominated construction industry. Her inner strength and perseverance drove her to achieve her goals against the odds.

Over the past six years, Emrana made a brilliant contribution to residential projects in the Architectus Sydney studio, including the recently completed Natura complex in Macquarie Park. She was instrumental in designing and delivering the NewLife at Darling Harbour, which has been recognised with several architectural awards. Through it all, what is most memorable is Emrana’s calm and mature leadership as she guided a young team through the project’s complex challenges and laid the foundations for the residential team in our Sydney and Adelaide studios. Most recently, Emrana became the linchpin of our team designing the residential and mixed-use precincts around the Suburban Rail Loop stations as part of the AJM consortium.

We saw Emrana grow from a shy but confident project architect to a fearless and compassionate leader. Nothing was impossible. She never said “no”; every time the bar was raised, she took it as a challenge and succeeded. She didn’t seek recognition; she did the hard work without expecting compliments. Instead, she nurtured and always led the team from the front.

Emrana was a fearless advocate for women in architecture and construction and a role model for many women in our business and the industry. She was actively involved in helping her colleagues be their best selves as a major advocate for and participant in the Architectus Mentoring Program. She was also a passionate mentor in the PCA 500 Women in Property initiative and deeply involved with the AIA as a member of the 2022 NSW Awards Jury for Residential Architecture. If this was not enough, Emrana also contributed to the future of our profession as an examiner of the Architectural Practice Examination. In short, she truly got involved with the industry, guided by her passion and zest for life.

For those of us who spent the better part of six years working closely with Emrana, sitting next to each other most day when in the studio, we were lucky to experience her kindness, passion for design, talent, and a beautiful blend of confidence and humbleness. We remember Emrana as a wonderful colleague and friend – always reliable, no matter the challenge. She took so many of our younger staff (and a few older ones, too) under her wing and kindly guided those starting their careers across our studios in three cities. The happy smile on people’s faces when they were assigned to her team was something you could count on.

Grief hits us all in different ways. About a dozen close colleagues visited Emrana’s resting place this week to support her family and begin processing our complex emotions. We’re learning new perspectives of the person we all value so deeply and helping each other soothe our pain by connecting with others. Together, we will find ways to deal with the unimaginable.

We remember Emrana as a wise and kind soul. As an intelligent and inspiring woman who boosted her colleagues’ confidence. An insightful sounding board who was supportive and encouraging. A person full of life who brought humour and grace to everything she did with a rare sense of compassion. We will not forget or take for granted all that Emrana brought to our lives. Instead, we take this moment to appreciate the special people who help shape us.

Architectus is working with Emrana’s family on a way to honour and remember Emrana, please get in touch if you’d like to contribute in the future: sydney@architectus.com.au