About... saraben

Photograph by LALA KABIRIAN

Architecture & Design Studio
Based in London

Saraben>studio is an award winning architecture and design studio founded by Sara Shafiei and Ben Cowd in 2007. Saraben’s design practice includes teaching, research and experimental architectural design. Projects include residential developments and schools to sustainable floating homes, retail, furniture and exhibition design. The studios work has been widely published and exhibitied throughout the world including The Venice Biennale, The Royal Academy of Art and the Museum of Art and Design, New York. 

Sara Shafiei and Ben Cowd are both Senior Lecturers in Architecture: Specialising in digital design, fabrication and Islamic design, patterns and Geometry. Their work on the ‘Crown of Esfahan’ in Iran has led the studio to work, teach and lecture extensively in the Middle East. 

Partner saraben-studio
Teaching Fellow Bartlett School of Architecture, UCL
Associate Lecturer and Unit Master Oxford Brookes University

Sara Shafiei graduated from the Bartlett school of Architecture (UCL) under the tuition of Dr Marcos Cruz and Dr. Marjan Colletti. She was the Bartlett recipient of the Sir Banister Fletcher Bronze Medal, 3D REID prize, and the Hamilton Associates prize.
Her work has been exhibited internationally including exhibitions at the Royal Academy of Art Summer show 2008, 2009, 2010, and 2012 where she was awarded the Royal Academy of Arts drawing prize, the Museum of Art and Design (MAD), New York, Kate's Paperie, New York and Venice Architecture Biennale.
Sara formed ‘saraben studio’ with Ben Cowd in 2007. The design practice balances teaching with experimental architectural design research. The studio was awarded the Royal Academy of Art Grand Architecture Award in 2012, and have lectured extensively on their work  and teaching methodology. In 2012 the studio were Keynote speakers at the international conference ‘Conversations on Architecture’ Cape Town, South Africa. In 2013 they exhibited and lectured at the Qatar Biannalle, and the Mathaf Museum of Modern Art, Doha. Shafiei has also been an invited lecturer at VCUQatar, and Cork University, Ireland.
Shafiei has also been published in Bartlett Design: Speculating with Architecture, Slash: Paper Under the Knife, AD-Protoarchitecture), Wallpaper Magazine, London Interiors Magazine, Icon Magazine, BD and The Architects Journal. She is one of the authors at Deletedscenes magazine and in 2009 co-authored “Digital architecture: Passages Through Hinterlands”- a book celebrating provocative projects from a young generation of digitally enabled designers.
Her work with bamboo is also noted worldwide with exhibitions in Bogata, Lima, Kassel and London as well as publications including ‘Visionary Bamboo Designs for Ecological Living’ (co-published by INBAR in Beijing) and ‘Innovation in Bamboo’ (Sandu Publication).
Sara is a visiting critic at The Architecture Association (AA), Westminster University, London South Bank University, Cardiff University and has run workshops at the AA, Oxford Brookes, Leicester School of Architecture and Brighton University. She also teaches at Bartlett School of Architecture, UCL.

Partner saraben-studio
Associate Head of School, The Leicester School of Architecture
Senior Lecturer in Architecture, De Montfort University

Ben Cowd is co-founding partner of saraben-studio and Associate head of school at The Leicester School of Architecture (DMU). In 2012 he won the £10,000 Aj/Lend Lease Grand Award for Architecture at the Royal Academy of Art, Summer Exhibition and was Keynote speaker at the international conference ‘Conversations in Architecture’ Cape Town. South Africa.

Ben studied Architecture at the Bartlett, UCL under the supervision of Marjan Colletti and Marcus Cruz in Unit 20. His final thesis project The Observatory and ticket office, Rome has been published internationally and praised in Wallpaper magazine’s Graduate Directory, The Financial Times, Blueprint, Bartlett Design: Speculating with Architecture, Slash: Paper Under the Knife and the AD-Exubernace.

Between 2007-2009 Ben worked for Norman Foster (F+P) in London, working primarily on the BMCE bank Morocco. He completed two buildings in Rabat and Fez before going on to work on Projects in London, Libya and Switzerland. His drawings and models for the BMCE Bank, Morocco was exhibited with Norman Foster and Spencer De Grey at the Royal Academy of Arts: Summer Exhibition 2009 and published in Foster 40. Ben is interviewed in the film 'How much does your building weight Mr Foster?' which was released at the Berlin Film Festival 2010 and due for release in the UK in February 2011.

Following his work with F+P Ben established saraben>studio with Sara Shafiei and staged the saraben>exhibition at the Dreamspace Gallery, London. Their work has been widely exhibited, including The Royal Academy of Art Summer Exhibition, The Venice Biennale 2010 and the Museum of Art and Design (MAD) in New York.

Ben is a visiting critic at The Architecture Association (AA), Ecole Sp├ęciale d’Architecture - Paris, Bartlett School of Architecture and Westminster University, London.