Building his own empire

WERE it not for the stubble on his chin, Ziyad Lambat could easily be mistaken for an 8-year-old boy.

WERE it not for the stubble on his chin, Ziyad Lambat could easily be mistaken for an 8-year-old boy.

"I have been eight-years-old for a number of years now," he chuckles.

Despite his small frame, Lambat is 28 and chief executive of what he hopes will be an architectural empire in a few years' time.

"I want to own an enterprise and be known internationally," Lambat says.

Lambat and his partner, Dion Hariparsad, own Space Render, an architectural firm they run from Lambat's Bezuidenhout Valley home in Johannesburg.

He prefers working from home and being "my own boss".

"It makes it easier for me, especially when I get sick," he says.

Lambat suffers from arthrogryposis, a rare congenital condition that affects, joints of the body, making movement difficult. It weakens muscles and results in crooked joints. His diagnosis was a shock to his parents, who had never heard of the condition before.

"My parents at first thought I had club feet but they soon realised that I couldn't bend my fingers to make a fist," Lambat says.

Because his physical disability made it difficult to get into school, his family moved to Swaziland, where they lived for three years.

"Schools were reluctant to take me because the teachers said children could be cruel. They thought I would not be able to cope with the hectic schedule at a normal school. I had to attend schools for the disabled though there was nothing wrong with me mentally."

Lambat completed school in 1997 and immersed himself in web design, learning the skill through self-study at home.

An encounter with an architect in 2004 sparked his interest in the field of designing structures.

"I researched the subject and found that I did not have to draw plans on paper because everything could be done on computer."

With the guidance of an experienced architect and the help of computer software, Lambat learnt all he could about architecture.

After working at a firm for 18 months, Lambat discovered 3D (three dimensional) design and decided to venture out on his own, which he describes as "more photo realistic".

"I realised that I could do it on my own and 3D was a different ball game."

Lambat's clients include contractors, developers and private homeowners, who are often taken aback by his physical disability.

"They are usually surprised. Some even doubt my ability but once I have spoken to them I usually prove them wrong."