Every year the Architect’s Journal gives an award to whoever has been the top person to show innovation, diversity, and inclusiveness in architecture. This award is known as the Jane Drew award.
Architecture is traditionally thought of as a “manly” job.
One that only men are capable of doing well. In Pakistan, most women have stayed away from this profession too.
This year the Jane Drew award was won by Yasmeen Lari, a 79-year-old woman from Pakistan. She is the first Pakistani woman to ever receive this award.
Yasmeen Lari was born in Dera Ghazi Khan in 1941. She graduated from Oxford’s School of Architecture in 1964.
But unlike most people who go abroad to study she actually came back to Pakistan and established her own practice here in Karachi known as “Lari Associates.”
Along with working on commercial projects such as the famous Taj Mahal Hotel, the Finance and Trade Centre in Karachi, she has been a Godsent to the people of Pakistan that might’ve not had anyone else to help them. She’s been behind building over 36,000 houses for those affected by the floods and earthquakes that have hit Pakistan in the past decade.
This comes as a huge deal considering she officially retired 20 years ago, for someone to continue working for humanitarian reasons 2 decades after the universal retirement age says a lot about her dedication.
And her work speaks for itself.
“From landmark buildings in Karachi to crisis shelters and community centers made of earth and bamboo, Yasmeen Lari’s work has shown that grand schemes are not the only way to make an impact—that architecture that uplifts, provides dignity to the marginalized, can make real and meaningful change.” – Manon Mollard, The Architectural Review Editor.
Since 1980, Lari has been working through her NGO called the Heritage Foundation Pakistan, which works on preserving the Pakistani heritage while also helping with the humanitarian aid organization in the country.
In 2002, her foundation earned the Recognition Award from the UN in Pakistan.
Yasmeen Lari is the one reason why we have female architects today, she continues to inspire women to look into the field even today. Without her being the first one to step out and do something different, who knows?