“He [My Grandfather] was a driver of a passenger Willys jeep who drove every morning on the roads carved in the dry mountains of Gilgit-Baltistan. I, wholeheartedly, salute him that he had managed to educate his two older sons at a time when education was accessible to very few in Gilgit-Baltistan (GB). One of them was my father; the first specialized Architect of the region, Architect Essa Khan (Late).
In making “me” what I am, embeds a series of consistent hard work and sacrifices of the generations came before me. Since my childhood, I was inspired by my elder generations. I aspire to become a visionary like them, but my vision has expanded. I always wanted to be an Architect since childhood. I lost my father when I was just 14. The hardships I faced after my father’s death couldn’t beat my determination to achieve my goals. Everyone around me said it would be hard for me being a female to pursue this field. I salute my mother, despite being a single parent, she always taught me to be independent and not to make my gender a weakness.
I completed my primary and secondary in Gilgit wherein I grew up attached to the local ways of living, which were quite simple and serene in nature. To reach my school, I had to walk five kilometers every day up the slope in the harsh sun and in cold winters. Having a dream to finish the incomplete research of my father and to fill his gap in the society, I came to Islamabad after completing FSC in Gilgit. I had to struggle hard to win the only seat allocated for Gilgit-Baltistan in the best school of architecture of Pakistan, National College of Arts (NCA), Lahore. The institute awarded me merit scholarship throughout the academic years. While my stay at NCA, Lahore, I got a chance to work at the Aga Khan Trust for Culture Kabul, Afghanistan. Moreover, I represented my university in an International Architects Convention in India.
In 2013, I graduated from NCA, Lahore with Distinction and succeeded to get my thesis project published in an international journal. I also presented it at various conferences and leading architecture schools in Islamabad, Lahore and Karachi. I followed through with my academic dreams by seeking employment at a leading architecture company of Islamabad where I brought profitable projects to my company and designed various leading projects in Islamabad, including architectural works for Embassies, Centaurus Apartments Interiors, and Gulberg Green Club.
In 2014, I got a chance to teach at one of the best institutes in Pakistan, NUST Islamabad, in its Department of School of Art Design and Architecture. Recently, I joined NCA, Lahore as visiting faculty along with my practice in the Architectural field. I am indebted to my elder brothers for their continuous support throughout my professional career. With their support we are running our own architectural firm Essa Noor Associates. It is currently working on small and large scale projects in Islamabad, Lahore and Gilgit. I am a seeker of knowledge, it’s an ongoing process and it’s just the beginning.
For the youth, I would like to say ‘Don’t wish it was easier, wish you were better and never get confused about your goal, be focused and work hard’
– Sabuhi Essa (Oshkhandas, Gilgit)
Note: To read stories from The Heros Within Series One originally published at Educure, please visit