Pakistan’s First Female Architect Builds Bamboo Flood Shelters

Pakistan’s first female architect Yasmeen Lari is the winner of the Jane Drew Prize 2020.

News Desk
3 Min Read
Pakistan's first female architect builds bamboo flood shelters
  • Lari has designed some of Pakistan’s most iconic buildings
  • The prize promotes innovation, diversity and inclusiveness in architecture
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Everyone needs a retirement project, and for the first woman architect in Pakistan, hers is housing for people who have been affected by disasters. Yasmeen Lari, now 81 years old, helped start a charity called the Heritage Foundation of Pakistan. This charity makes bamboo huts for flood victims in Pakistan.

She spent most of her career designing sleek, modern skyscrapers. When she was ready to retire in 2005, a big earthquake happened, and she had to help people find shelter.

She told Fast Company that this is where she got the idea for her low-cost, low-carbon bamboo cone-shaped shelters. The roofs are made of reed mats and rope, and the huts are 12 feet by 12 feet. They can fit up to five people. She said, “You couldn’t find anything else.” “Everything took too long, like bricks… Bamboo could be found. So I said, “All right, let’s try it.”

Since June of this year, most of lowland Pakistan has been under water at some point, and Sindh, one of the worst-affected provinces, wants 1 million tents to house people who have been forced to leave their homes.

Lari has been through a flood before. In 2010, she helped organize the building of thousands of these bamboo huts for people in similar situations. These huts can be upgraded as time goes on and can also be moved easily as the situation requires.

In 2012 and 2013, these were able to withstand floods; by that time, some had even been raised on bamboo stilts. Lari runs a training center for emergency architecture called Zero-Carbon Campus. The original bamboo hut design has been updated with pre-made bamboo panels that can be quickly put together with rope. This makes it easier to get this idea used by many people.

Five craftspeople from the Campus can build about eight of these shelters daily, and Fast Company says they have survived the flooding. But the artisans aren’t needed to put the shelter together, and the Heritage Foundation of Pakistan has made easy YouTube guides for people who need to learn quickly.

INTBAU Pakistan is a group of architects trying to raise money to build thousands of these shelters because the floods in Pakistan are still causing a lot of damage.

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