Text: Yasmeen Lari
Visuals: Courtesy Heritage Foundation

In Pakistan, during the last couple of decades, recurring disasters have underscored the destructive impact of climate change on people’s lives. Their frequency and greater magnitude are attributed to changing weather patterns, melting glaciers, and deforestation, as well as increase in use of industrialized materials in construction that inflict avoidable ecological footprint. Due to the impact of changing climatic conditions, while centuries’ old archaeological sites and built heritage are rapidly turning into endangered sites, vernacular architecture is equally susceptible in the wake of floods and earthquakes.
Unsustainable post-disaster development leading to increased carbon footprint

Over centuries, vernacular construction in Pakistan has promoted social cohesion, fostering pride, stake and ownership through community participation and the use of local materials. These non-engineered methodologies, developed over centuries, are economical in construction and climatically highly suitable, warding off heat and cold.

Text: Zarminae Ansari
Visuals: Courtesy Zarminae Ansari & Port Grand Authorities

Karachi’s waterfront festival marketplace

The Port Grand Food and Entertainment Complex opened at the end of 2010, to much fanfare, inspiring great optimism in the midst of the violence that plagues the city. It was, and is, a rarity: an adaptive reuse project on a historic 1,400 ft bridge, creating a 200,000 square foot waterfront development in old Karachi. Known commonly as “netty jetty” (Native Jetty), the area of the Old Napier Mole Bridge was used to dump garbage, and was frequented by junkies. Shahid Firoz, the CEO of the project, intended the project to be a catalyst to “…revive the culture and traditions of old Karachi”[1]. Its much-photographed highlight is not just the view of Karachi Port and the occasional cargo train rattling past to the delight of children, but an awe-inspiring 150-year old Banyan tree skillfully lit at the entrance of Napier’s Tavern- an exclusive club-restaurant built using material from the old bridge.

The website of the project still uses the original 3D renderings rather than actual photographs of the built reality, which clearly express the original intent. Balloons, fireworks, and throngs of people: a “festival marketplace”. Indeed, many visitors to the development have pointed out the similarity to other famous waterfront marketplaces in North America, an idea that was most popular in the

Seventies and captured the imagination of town administrators as the great answer to revitalizing downtowns and waterfronts.

Case of the Lyari Expressway Project

Text | Asiya Sadiq Polack & Suneela Ahmed

In developing contexts urban design is a word synonymous to elaborate public space design. Therefore the formally used terms in Pakistan shy away from the word design and prefer to use terms like; urban planning,

 urban development and mega projects to describe any scale and form of urban design interventions. The nomenclature used by the city agencies and professionals is reflective of a mindset which absolves itself from

the pre-requisite study and design of urban projects addressing the social-political and spatial networks involved in the making of aesthetically designed urban projects.

These design questions are constantly discussed and debated in all studios and forums at the department of architecture (DAP) at NED University. One such study of the local urban design issues and their situation in

 practice and teaching, was undertaken in a 04 year long Euro-Asian, EU funded inter universities collaborative research and teaching projects called Asia link and Asia Urbs City Design and Capacity Building

Projects. 06 cases (in Pakistan, Sri Lanka and India) including the Lyari Expressway Project (LEW) in Karachi were studied to assess urban design practices and impacts in south Asia. Several staff

members / researchers, students and studios were involved in these investigations and the cases were discussed in-depth in international workshops, seminars and a joint conference in 2007 in Sri Lanka.

The published results of these activities are available at the DAP-NED archives.

One of the most important finding was that research by design on urban issues must be a continuous process conducted via research based design studios and practice fed into city policies and plans by professional

work and advocacy. To ensure this an Urban Research and Design Cell (URDC) was setup at DAP-NED in 2007, which engages regularly in city research and design projects and disseminates the analysis and
information via seminars, articles, consultancies and professional practice of its members.


Infrastructure boggles ones mind, we are completely surrounded by it though invisible to our eyes and hence completely overlooked. Today more so our life styles are entirely embedded within a supporting network of technology
and its paraphernalia. Lets put technology aside for a second, can any building actually work without water, gas, electricity supplies or drain facilities? A unanimous no; so how can the design of such important parameters and life
sustaining elements be overlooked since all and every built structure however profound or mundane is sustained by the ever-growing network of services and facilities?

The work is not miniscule even if considered for one building or one family dwelling but is colossal and threatens to overpower the society. Once the infrastructure is laid below the grade level it is impossible to work, amend, or revisit the structure as it is not only phenomenally expensive but an impossible feat in removing the population inhabiting over and around it. Eventually the infrastructure over the years wears thin with the population advances and the demands of the now obsolete and stretched to it maximum layout of wires, cables, pipes and passageways.

Hence why then something of that dire almost life changing importance be ignored or considered ugly? The technological advances in the late twenty first century are immense; small chips can detect the surface and subliminal reading of the earth movement. We can therefore use technology to its maximum yet still the development or the design of infrastructure for the built environment is a task that the stakeholders and politicians of our country are wary to address. Newer urban or maybe rural developments in the scenario of the built environment include some aspects, but the productivity still lacks the demands of the current century.

Risk Free Schools in Pakistan – A Comprehensive School Safety Framework and Approach To Disaster Risk Reduction (DRR)

Text: Anoushe Khan
Visuals: Courtesy FOCUS

School safety is a phenomenon dealing with policies and practices that lead to creation of a safe, secure and enabling learning environment within and outside a school building. Risk reduction in education emphasises on building a culture of resilience and safety through education, teacher training, training on school level risk assessments, building and retro-fitting school and finally strengthening disaster preparedness in education.
It is said that “earthquake doesn’t kill people -buildings do”. So how those buildings are designed and built, and where they are located, is critical to their ability to withstand different types
of natural hazard. Natural disasters have no borders, it could happen anywhere and anytime, but what is important is the wisdom & effective planning before undertaking any development
project.  Multi-disciplinary skills are required to make a structure more aesthetic, attractive and cost-effective, however, one critical and fundamental element is always lacking and often ignored,
 is how a structure could be made resilient to different types of natural hazards. Because our preference has been more focused on the aesthetic and architectural designs rather resiliency to any

If the multi-disciplinary skills are utilized effectively keeping the element of risk reduction on priority, no doubt risk could be reduced and the ratio of causalities by the failure of structure can
reduce as well. The skills of architects, engineers, planners and surveyors can be collectively utilized to make such safe havens as part of a quality built environment opportunity.
Focus Humanitarian Assistance an affiliate of Aga Khan Development Network (AKDN) has been active in Pakistan since 1998 and its Comprehensive School Safety framework is tailored for the geographies it serves and is unique for the institutional capacity it brings to bear. FOCUS plays its direct role in disaster preparedness and response at one hand side in the mountainous and coastal areas of Pakistan, and also its in-direct role for sensitizing community, stakeholders at other hand side, for getting conscious for site selection of infrastructures to be constructed and how to be safe within the existing buildings in emergencies. It has been involved in risk anticipation and identification of hazards through mapping and GIS based analysis. FOCUS Pakistan has been advocating legislation for school safety and implementing programmes for awareness and has been providing disaster response equipment to schools.

Copyright © 2012 ADA: Architecture Design Art.