Yasmeen Lari, dubbed a “Architect for the Poorest of the Poor” and Pakistan’s first female architect, has been named the 2023 recipient of the Royal Institute of British Architects (RIBA) Royal Gold Medal for Architecture. In June 2023, Yasmeen Lari will receive the medal in person.
Yasmeen Lari is a Pakistani architect, heritage conservationist, and humanitarian activist. She was born in 1941, in Dera Ghazi Khan, British India (now Pakistan). Lari studied architecture at Oxford University and later worked for various architectural firms in Pakistan, including the Government of Pakistan’s Ministry of Housing and Works.
In the 1990s, Lari shifted her focus to heritage conservation and established the Heritage Foundation of Pakistan, a non-profit organisation aimed at preserving Pakistan’s cultural heritage with her husband, Pakistani historian Suhail Zaheer Lari. She has worked on several high-profile restoration projects, including the Shahi Hammam in Lahore and the Mohatta Palace in Karachi.
In addition to her work in architecture and heritage conservation, Lari is also involved in humanitarian efforts. She has worked on disaster relief projects in Pakistan, including providing shelter for victims of the 2010 floods. She has built about 50,000 houses in Pakistan since 2010 for victims of the 2010 earthquake and the 2013 flood. She helped Balochistan’s 2013 earthquake-affected residents in the Awaran District.
Lari has received several awards for her work, including the Sitara-i-Imtiaz, Pakistan’s third-highest civilian award, and the Fukuoka Prize for Culture. In 2021, she was announced as the recipient of the Jane Drew Prize, an international award that recognizes women who have made significant contributions to the field of architecture.
Lari continues to be an influential figure in the fields of architecture, heritage conservation, and humanitarianism in Pakistan and beyond.
Yasmeen Lari’s Eco-Feminist Work
One of Lari’s most notable contributions to the field of architecture is her eco-feminist work. She believes that the traditional methods of construction and architecture in Pakistan can be used to create environmentally sustainable buildings. Her eco-feminist approach involves using local materials, traditional building techniques, and involving women in the construction process.
Lari’s eco-feminist work includes the design of the first zero-carbon footprint building in Pakistan, the SOS Children’s Village in Lahore. The building was designed to use renewable energy sources such as solar panels and wind turbines. It also incorporates traditional building techniques such as the use of mud bricks and lime mortar.
In addition to her work in eco-feminist architecture, Lari is also an advocate for women’s rights in Pakistan. She believes that by involving women in the construction process, they can be empowered and have greater control over their lives.
Lari’s approach to architecture as activism has inspired many architects and designers to incorporate environmental and social issues into their work. She has been recognized for her contributions to the field of architecture, including being awarded the Jane Drew Prize for her outstanding contribution to the status of women in architecture.
Yasmeen Lari- Design philosophy
Yasmeen Lari’s design philosophy is based on the idea of sustainability and social responsibility. She believes that architecture should be used as a tool for social change and that it should have a positive impact on the communities it serves.
Lari’s design approach is rooted in the use of local materials and traditional building techniques. She believes that using local materials helps to reduce the carbon footprint of a building and ensures that it is well-suited to the local climate and culture. By incorporating traditional building techniques, Lari also helps to preserve cultural heritage and promote sustainable practices.
Lari’s design philosophy also places a strong emphasis on social responsibility. She believes that architects have a responsibility to design buildings that meet the needs of the communities they serve, especially those who are most marginalized. Lari’s work often involves designing buildings for disadvantaged communities, such as schools, hospitals, and community centers. She also involves members of the local community in the design and construction process, which helps to empower them and promote social cohesion.
Overall, Lari’s design philosophy is characterized by a deep commitment to sustainability, social responsibility, and cultural heritage. Her work serves as an inspiration to architects around the world who seek to use their skills to make a positive impact on society.
About the RIBA Royal Gold Medal for Architecture
The Royal Institute of British Architects (RIBA) annually bestows the RIBA Royal Gold Medal for Architecture on an individual or group of individuals who have made a significant contribution to the development of architecture. One of the most esteemed honours in the field of architecture, the award has been given out since 1848.
The winner is chosen based on their body of work, how much of an impact they have had on architecture, and how much of an influence they have had on society in general. Some of the most significant architects in history, such as Frank Lloyd Wright, Le Corbusier, and Norman Foster, have received the medal.
A panel of judges chosen by the RIBA conducts the selection process, which is open to architects from all over the world. At a ceremony held annually in London, the award winner is revealed.
Receiving the RIBA Royal Gold Medal is regarded as one of the most prestigious honours in architecture, and it is a noteworthy accomplishment for any architect.