LONDON: The Royal Institute of British Architects has granted its prestigious Royal Gold Medal for 2023 to Yasmeen Lari, Pakistan’s first female architect celebrated the world over for her humanitarian work, especially her dedication to providing low-cost, zero-carbon housing solutions for marginalized communities. She received this award, personally mandated by King Charles, making it the first of its kind.
In particular, the award citation highlights Lari’s work with Heritage Foundation of Pakistan, which she co-founded with her husband Suhail Zaheer Lari in 1980 after her retirement. Over the past 23 years, Lari and her organization have provided imaginative and creative solutions to address the physical and psychological damage caused by natural disasters, earthquakes, floods, and conflicts in Pakistan.
While Lari established her own successful architecture studio Lari Associates, in Karachi in 1969, it was her work with marginalized communities that garnered global attention. She has been advocating for the use of traditional materials such as mud, lime, and bamboo to create low-impact buildings that can lead to carbon-neutral constructions.
In recent years, Lari has been instrumental in launching and popularizing various projects such as self-built shelters, giant bamboo community centres, terracotta tiling for streets, and lastly, the award-winning ecological cooking stoves.
Yasmin Lari’s efforts in architecture have been universally appreciated and recognized and she has also received numerous awards including the Jane Drew Prize in 2022, which acknowledged her hard work and efforts to promote and create awareness regarding gender equality in the field.
Following in the footsteps of Zaha Hadid, Lari is the sixth woman in the world to acquire the Royal Gold Medal in her own right, and the first Pakistani architect to do so.