The VIENNA BIENNALE FOR CHANGE 2019 draws attention to creative ideas and projects from the fields of art, design, and architecture that can help improve the world. For the international conference CHANGING VALUES at the Architekturzentrum Wien (6/7 September 2019), Yasmeen Lari, Pakistan’s first female architect and pioneer in the development of earthquake-resistant and flood-resistant residential and communal buildings for her home country, has been invited as a keynote speaker. The conference, organized by the MAK and the Slovak Design Center together with the Architekturzentrum Wien and Kunsthalle Wien as part of the INTERREG V-A program, reflects alternative ecological and economic approaches in the mirror of central contents of the VIENNA BIENNALE.
Yasmeen Lari, a pioneer of Brutalist architecture, constructed ground-breaking buildings, mostly made of concrete, in Pakistan in the 1960s and 1970s. In 1980, she founded the Heritage Foundation of Pakistan together with her husband Suhail Zaheer Lari, a renowned historian. The Heritage Foundation initiated historical restoration projects and, for that purpose, researched traditional construction techniques and craftsmanship. Yasmeen Lari’s strategies for the development of sustainable architecture led to social change in the marginalized parts of Pakistan. To reduce greenhouse gas emissions and promote human well-being, she developed low-cost, carbon-free, and waste-free methods based on traditional heritage and renewable materials.
Since the devastating earthquake in Kashmir in 2005, Yasmeen Lari has devised several programs for post–disaster communities. Massive state and international aid has not been able to provide sustainable solutions to the recurrent catastrophic floods in Pakistan. Lari, however, has managed to build flood- and earthquake-resistant houses using traditional building materials and minimal resources. In the early stages, mobile training teams provide guidance on self-construction with the aim of training, in particular, women to become new barefoot caravan teams (MBKT). Each team can build 50 accommodations within one month. The strategies she has developed have resulted in 40,000 green bamboo, lime, and mud shelters, from Hazara and Azad Kashmir to Swat and Sindh, making Pakistan the world’s largest zero carbon conservation program and one of the largest providers of shelter.
These programs have led to large-scale economic empowerment of women and economic renewal in communities. The latest project, the 10,000 Green Shelters program, will provide prefabricated bamboo shelters (Lari OctaGreen) and eco-toilets and water pumps for marginalised communities. In return, the scholarship holders volunteer 18 days per unit for the benefit of the community, changing the village environment and paving the road to independence for the communities.
Historical restoration projects
Yasmeen Lari is also involved in the restoration and conservation of several important Makli World Heritage monuments. Work on two monuments is currently being carried out under the auspices of the Heritage Foundation of Pakistan. It set up the Makli Kashi studio, with the support of the UNESCO World Heritage Centre, to revive the craft of glazed tiles. Lari is also working with the local mendicant community to improve their livelihoods. Over 200 people from eight villages of the mendicant community have been trained to earn their living in a respectable way.
Yasmeen Lari (born 1941, in Dera Ghazi Khan, Pakistan) is an architect, architectural historian, heritage conservationist, and philanthropist. She graduated from the Oxford School of Architecture (Oxford Brookes) and was elected to the Royal Institute of British Architects in 1969. Since her retirement from the architectural practice in 2000, she has been involved in monument conservation and humanitarian architecture. She has been chosen as one of 60 women who have contributed most to UNESCO’s objectives. Yasmeen Lari’s works were exhibited in the First Chicago Architectural Biennial 2015, in RIBA’s Creation from Catastrophe exhibition in London in 2016, and are currently on display in RIBA’s permanent collection. Her work is currently also shown at the exhibition Critical Care. Architecture for a Broken Planet at the Architekturzentrum Wien. She is the author and co-author of several books and has lectured extensively at home and abroad. In recognition of her services, she has received the national awards of Sitara-i-Imtiaz (2006) and Hilal-i-Imtiaz (2014) and the coveted Fukuoka Prize for Asian Art and Culture from Japan (2016).
Keynote Lecture with Yasmeen Lari
Friday, September 6th, 2019
The detailed conference program for CHANGING VALUES as well as registration information at https://mak.at/changingvalues
The VIENNA BIENNALE FOR CHANGE 2019: BRAVE NEW VIRTUES. Shaping Our Digital World is organized by the MAK – Museum of Applied Arts, the University of Applied Arts Vienna, Kunsthalle Wien, the Architekturzentrum Wien, and the Vienna Business Agency as well as the Slovak Design Center as associate partner and the AIT Austrian Institute of Technology as a non-university research partner (29 May to 6 October 2019).
A contribution by Sandra Hell-Ghignone, MAK Press and Public Relations