Yasmeen Lari is Pakistan’sfirst woman architectand among the best known architectsof the country. She graduated from Oxford School of Architecture (now Oxford Brookes University) and was elected to Royal Institute of British Architects (RIBA)in 1969. She has builtseveral landmarks buildingsin Pakistane.g. FTC, PSO House and ABN Amro Bank, Karachi. She is considered among pioneers of Brutalistic Architecture and her architectural work is included in Phaidon Books UK publication (2013) devoted tothe best examples of 20thcentury architecture. She retired from architectural practice in 2000. She is a UNESCO consultant and has beenpublished among 60 Women who have contributed the most towards UNESCO’s objectives.
She co-founded Heritage Foundation of Pakistan in 1980 with her husband, noted historian Suhail Zaheer Lari,for undertaking research and safeguarding Pakistan’s cultural heritage.She has conserved several historic monuments in World Heritage Sites of Makli and Lahore Fort as well as important heritage sites in other parts of Pakistan. The conservation projects have been supported by UNESCO, US Ambassador’s Fund, German Government funds, Prince Cluas Fund of the Netherlands, and Spiritual Chords (South Africa). In 2016, with support from UNESCO/Republic of Korea Funds-in-Trust, she took up the ‘Revitalization of Ancient Glazed Tiles in Sindh’ which helped to complete the d16thc.tomb of Sultan Ibrahimalong with imparting the ceramic making skills to poor communities, especially women,for income generation.
Lari was elected president of the Institute of Architects Pakistan in 1978 and was the first chairperson of Pakistan Council of Architects and Town Planners(PCATP)in 1983.In recognition of her services PCATP has established ‘Yasmeen Lari Award for Ethical Architecture and Eco Development’ which will be awarded from late 2018.
Since Earthquake 2005, Larihas devised several programs for post–disaster communities: Heritage and Tradition for Rehabilitation and Development, Build Back Safer with Vernacular Methodologies(BBSVM), and Women-centric Community Based Disaster Risk Management(Wc-CBDRM). The strategies developed by her haveresulted in 40,000 green shelters (using bamboo, lime and mud), built from Hazara and Azad Kashmir to Swat and Sindh, placing Pakistan in the lead as World’s largest zero carbon shelter program, herself being acknowledged as the largest providerof shelter. These programs have led tolarge-scale economic empowerment of women and economic regeneration within communities. Her latest endeavor is 10,000 Green Shelters program, that provides gifts of prefab bamboo shelters (Lari OctaGreen) and eco-toilets, along with water pumps to marginalized communities. Inreturn the grantees provide 18 days/unit of voluntary service for community benefit, thus transforming villageenvironmentsand placing the communitieson the path of self reliance.
In recognition of her services towards architectural profession, heritage safeguarding and humanitarian assistance, President of Pakistan has awarded her Sitara-i-Imtiaz (The Star of Distinction), 2006 and Hilal-i-Imtiaz (The Crescent of Distinction), 2014. In 2016, from
Japan she received the highly acclaimed Fukuoka Prize for Asian Art and Culture.
Heritage Foundation of Pakistan is the recipient of UN Recognition Award for the promotion of culture and peace, 2002, declared Islamic Development Bank Laureate in 2014, and is among recipients of Curry Stone Design Prize for Social Design Circle 2017.
Lari’s works have been exhibited in the First Chicago Architectural Biennial 2015 and in RIBA’s ‘Creation from Catastrophe’ exhibition 2016 in London, as well as being displayed in RIBA’s permanent collection.
She is the author and co-author of several books and has lectured extensively at home and abroad. She has three children Raeena, Mihail and Humayun and one grandchild Shahryar Lari-Hosain.