Academic inspiration


Nick Ames meets Islam El Mashtooly who keeps his skills and ideas fresh by teaching architecture as well as designing buildings.

Combining a passion for teaching design skills with practical architecture is what fires 31-year-old Islam El Mashtooly – currently working on Saudi Arabia’s 1km tall Kingdom Tower.

The Egyptian born architect who works for Godwin Austen Johnson in Dubai knew he wanted to follow the profession from an early age.


“My father was always very interested in building design and he wanted his sons to achieve a goal which he believed in,” said El Mashtooly.

Even in his early years in Egypt he managed to combine work with a role as a teaching assistant – a dual purpose which continues to this day with design duties at GAJ running alongside lecturing at a science and technology college in Ajman.

“The mix is what keeps me learning,” said El Mashtooly. “I feel when you stop learning you kill yourself – you are dead professionally.

“When teaching you need to prepare yourself, both mentally and physically so that you can fully express your ideas.

“For me architecture has a deeper meaning than just spaces. There should be a focus on culture, on heritage – and especially on people.”

El Mastooly said working with students keeps his ideas fresh and himself open to new skills and thoughts.

“I met a former student recently who I’d taught,” he said. “She said to my current class ‘he’s young, but you really can learn from him.

“She is, herself, working as a teacher now so that was very gratifying indeed for me.”

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