A proud moment for Pakistanis everywhere as Yasmeen Lari, Pakistan’s first-ever female architect, has just been awarded the prestigious Jane Drew Prize 2020 for her contribution to raising the profile of women in design and architecture.
The prize is named after Jane Drew, an advocate for women in a male-dominated profession. Other previous winners of the award include Odile Decq, Grafton Architects’ founders Yvonne Farrell and Shelley McNamara, Kathryn Findlay of Ushida Findlay and Eva Jiřičná.
The 79-year-old is now among the ranks of other famous award winners such as Amanda Levete, Zaha Hadid, Denise Scott Brown and Elizabeth Diller.
Yasmeen Lari – A Profile
Yasmeen Lari is well-known and respected for designing landmark buildings in Karachi, where she set up her own practice after graduating from Oxford Brookes’ architecture school in 1964. Her buildings include the Finance and Trade Centre (1983-89) and Pakistan State Oil House (1985-91).
Before these, she had designed the Anguri Bagh housing project in Lahore in 1973 and Lines Area Resettlement in 1980 – a complex of self-built housing for residents of a sprawling settlement covering more than 80ha of Karachi. Yasmeen later turned to ‘barefoot’ architecture, which aimed to tread lightly upon the plan and provide environmentally sustainable and participative solutions to lift up marginalized communities.
She started working with bamboo in 2007, providing community kitchens to refugees of the conflict in Swat in Khyber Pakhtunkhwa province and, later, building community centers on stilts after floods hit the Khyber Pakhtunkhwa and Sindh provinces.