A Place Of Forward Movement


 Sobia Sayeda

Sobia Sayeda


Perhaps it started during the early years of my training in architecture in a poverty-stricken state. 

Perhaps it started five years ago as I faced the end of the life I thought I'd built for myself. Perhaps it is why I was able to re-create my life in a city full of strangers with no one to call kin.

Maybe it really came about five years ago when I found myself facing a divorce with a nursing 18-month-old child to care for. In the dissolution of my relationship, I felt blindsided by the deviations I witnessed a few months preceding the separation. Once the shock wore off, I realized that I had to pull it together for my young child’s sake and move forward in life. I have frequently been thankful to my parents for offering me the prospect of an education at no cost. It is the greatest gift they have offered their kids, and it is the reason, after losing everything during my marriage, I was able to recreate a life in a city full of strangers and no one to call kin.

After 10 years of a failed marriage and working toward recreating a desired life for myself and my second grader, I find myself in a place of peace. However, there are numerous women around me who started a family at a fairly young age without any formal college education or substantial means to make a living. When they find themselves with one or two young children, and without spousal or child support, they can also find themselves on welfare, or working multiple jobs to make ends meet. Most of their waking hours are spent in a rush transporting their children to and from school and to the babysitter. The quality of life they can offer to their kids is less than desirable. Thus the cycle of lack of funds and lack of time continues.

And so the Clementine Project was born.

The Clementine Project is an initiative composed of architects, designers, and various philanthropic individuals. Our primary directive is forming a collaborative for the study and development of economical and alternative housing for people in need of suitable, affordable shelter, specifically women and children. The mission includes, and is not limited to, the design, the building, and the development of housing that solves the basic needs of shelter in an imaginative, sustainable, and economical manner. 

The Project comes from a place of empowerment, a place of forward movement, and a place of peace. I witnessed these traits in my parents and they were offered to me growing up. Perhaps the project was seeded during my parent’s involvement as children in the migration during the 1947 Partition of India; perhaps it took inception while they immigrated as a young family to the Middle East looking for employment and advancement; or perhaps it was birthed during the early years of my education in the field of architecture in poverty-stricken Mississippi.

The goal of Clementine Project is simple:

To empower women reach their potential so that they can break the cycle of hopelessness and poverty; to provide them with tools to foster forward movement toward achieving a desirable lifestyle for their children; and to create peaceful space for these young warriors to nurture our future generations. Clementine Project strongly believes that building communities, which encourage generational symbiosis and create peace, love, and unity in everyday living, is key to promoting a better world and future.

Clementine Project is currently considering worldwide building sites to construct demonstration communities serving the public sectors indicative of the greatest needs.

Sobia was born in Pakistan and shortly thereafter moved to Saudi Arabia for the next 18 years and then moved to Mississippi. She received her bachelor's degree in Architecture from Mississippi State University and began her professional career in New York City working on performing arts facilities and libraries. While living in Dallas, she designed regional and international libraries as well as commercial/retail buildings. Since then, Sobia relocated to Santa Fe in early 2008 to join IDS and began working on historic preservation, high-end residential projects, including historic preservation of a 25,000-square-foot Northern New Mexico residence that was built in the early 1900’s.


Words: Sobia Sayeda