2019-20 Award Winners - Omar Ferwati


Congratulations to Omar Ferwati, who is the recipient of the Marj Schaefer Award and Barry Bell Scholarship. The Marj Schaefer Award celebrates contribution to the School of Architecture, while the Barry Bell Scholarship is awarded to an Architecture graduate student pursuing research in international architecture.

Omar completed his MArch at Waterloo in 2020. As a student, he founded the Sustainability Collective at the School of Architecture in 2019, an open group of students, faculty, and staff working towards changes in the school, community, and profession in response to the climate crisis. In their first year, they advocated for curricular changes, held awareness campaigns, and organized community action. Omar was also co-director of BRIDGE and co-curator of Common Waters, a collective exhibition on community and environment in 2019. Common Waters also depended on the joint effort of tens of students to design, build, and host three-months of exhibition and events.

Omar’s recent thesis and current research asks how civilians use architecture to survive urban warfare. It introduces 'civilian architectural responses' as a phenomenon where people cope with violence by creating and changing the urban space around them. He is contributing a chapter on this work for a forthcoming book on reconstruction and violence. Omar now works as a researcher with Forensic Architecture in London where he uses spatial analysis for human rights investigations.