Yasmeen Lari was the first woman to qualify as an architect in Pakistan in 1963 after training in the UK at the Oxford School of Architecture. Before officially retiring from practice in 2000 she designed many of Pakistan’s landmark modern commercial buildings, however since becoming a UNESCO consultant in 2003 she has become renowned for her work with communities living in disaster prone areas of the country.
Since a devastating 2005 earthquake in Pakistan, Lari has been working to develop low-carbon and cost structures that can withstand earthquakes and floods in what she calls ‘barefoot architecture’ that treads lightly on the planet. She works directly with marginalised communities by supplying the technical knowledge and training for people to take charge of their lives and build structures that are resilient to and prepared for frequent extreme weather. So far over 45,000 green shelters have been constructed through Lari’s outreach, making her work the world’s largest zero carbon shelter programme.
In 1980 she co-founded the Heritage Foundation of to carry out this mission, training largely non-literate individuals to make low-cost quality products for themselves. One of these products is the Chulah, a design for a stove made from earth and lime that safeguard’s women’s dignity, health and income an won the World Habitat award in 2018.
Lari has received many awards for her humanitarian work, most notably the Star of Distinction from the President of Pakistan in 2006 and in 2016 she received the highly acclaimed Fukuoka Prize from Japan. In 2016 Lari’s work was included in RIBA’s ‘Creation from Catastrophe’ exhibition, and her work is also part of RIBA’s permanent collection.
The evening will begin with a lecture by Yasmeen Lari and will be followed by an opportunity for questions from the audience.