Before becoming an Architect…

some one should tell you that this is going to be the biggest mistake that you would ever make. Maybe if you are a sadist, or a person who likes to inflict torture upon himself, then maybe you wont be so put out by this profession. Other wise, you should really think twice.You should try hitting your head against the wall a couple of times, then maybe inflict torture upon yourself, poke a hive of bees, sit under a lamp with a highest volt bulb that you can find facing you and then staying awake for 4 days. If after doing all this you think, that you are still up for the challenge, maybe because of the fact that you have hurt yourself too bad, or you just simply enjoy the adrenaline rush, then by all means go for it.

The curse of Architects

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City Government’s Latest Venture

Has anyone seen one of those boxes painted blue with the triangle top on it ? On its own the boxes are spacious, and a good idea, even if they are a bit distasteful for my taste. (Dont know if that statement makes sense). Although the reasons why the City Government decided to start this productive venture is still not clear, beacause there are far too many cons in this project, as compared to the pros.

These boxes have been designed for small enterprenurs, mostly commonly known in our lingo as the “Thalle wala” or the hawkers. The few shops that have been so far sold, at a price some where between Rs. 56,000 to 60,000, have been bought by Flower walla or the puncture shops.

Anyways, so out on the streets yesterday, I passed through Bahdaurabad and let out one of the weirdest shreieks ever. Anyone of you out there who have been to Bahadurabad (which i am sure most of you have, thanks Eid no 1 and eid no 2), you remember those small alley like streets in which no matter how hard you try you just have to bump into the other person every now and then to be able to get to another random point on the street. Well those alley ways have now been lined with this great design solution by the CDGK.

For years, every city government has declared that enchroacments have been the cause of great traffic jams and how they are illegal , how every few months the Faisal Borad, or the city gvernment would come and round up all the cabins, or anything that it thinks comes under the heading of enchroacments. This has resulted in my poor pan wala Bashar’s cabin been taken several several times.

So does the city government thinks (if it thinks at all) that this is a practial solution? NO a big big NO. In half of the places, they have been put up with no consideration about their impact, or the fact that they back many of the shops in these prime locations, thus greatly effecting the business that is already established in the area., one of the instance being the Bahadurabad alley. This “great solution” is simply lined on a footpath intelligently hides away the shop fronts.

Not only that they add to the congestion in the area. Another problem is that the much-hated enchrochments were ditested for so many years, but now this solution is in its essence nothing more than another form of that. They are being placed all over the city on the footpaths literally being a visual barrier and acting as berlin wall, and taking the very little sacred space that a pedestrian has in this country. Continue reading

Institute of Architects Pakistan – Karachi Chapter is “Celebrating Architecture”

The Institute of Architects, Pakistan’s Karachi chapter is currently holding IAPEX 2009 under the banner of “Celebrating Architecture”. The Exhibition has studied the latest trends of exhibiting and the big names of the snob land and guest like Ameen J, Yousuf Bashir, Rizwan Beyg are becoming more prominent in this exhibition than architecture itself.

In any country this experiment would have been appreciated.. or already covered 10 years ago.. but the case of Pakistan is that not only are we 10 years late, we are doing something that is completely not of our context.

I don’t mean to be a critic.. but the entire exhibition seems now to be a parade of big labels and names and the common man or lets call him – the middle income group- would find nothing that would be able to capture his “BUDGET.”

We today are a nation that is unable to provide for the 70 percent of its population with decent housing, and the statistics say that it would take us many more years before we can reach that point. So when exhibition like these display topics that are better suited for some other time and place, it really makes me wonder.. HOW ARE THESE PEOPLE- THE FUTURE ARCHITECTS DOING TO DEAL WITH THE REALITY OF THE COUNTRY?

The program included an opening by Shazia Mari, the Information Minister… and what bugs me about this is did we not have enough great architects to celebrate that we need a politician to inaugurate.. which goes to prove my point..that IAPEX is more becoming a publicity stunt than an architectural exhibition…. Oh the closing ceremony has Dr.(?) Ishrat-ul-Ibad as its guest.

The show definitely had some high points too.. The presentation by Dr. Gulzar Haider of Beaonhouse University, Lahore was no doubt a wonderful way to start off the main program but again it lacked our context which he acknowledged and said that this would definitely make a great presentation.

The rest of the program was a big joint drama of how we are letting the old Karachi slip away from us.. and this has become the central theme of this exhibitions.. No one is ready to propose anything new as in a solution.. this time the mass mourning took a new turn when Najaf Bilgrami and Manizhe Ali showcased a film “One way traffic” – a nightmare of 6 min and 23 seconds which consisted of the famous “Bunder Road se Kemari” Song and very bad camera works.. with no conclusion what so ever.

I wouldn’t say that the discussions and there were many.. weren’t amazing. They were.The point that Dr. Gulzar made about what we need to do about Muslim architectural issues like the constructions at and around Kaaba should have been given more importance because these are the topics that are the contemporary issue of Muslim Community.

I think that architectural community of Pakistan needs to focus more on the region that they have then finding inspiration from outside world. The arguments of bringing arts and textiles and and fabrics are not our arguments.. 20 years from now they might make sense.. TODAY THEY DON’T.

IAPEX has always been a wonderful experience.. but as time goes by, they are losing their touch. They need to get back to the realities of our context and region.

The Programs and Manifestos of the 20th Century

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This was the book selected to be the first book for our class… And the discussions that led the reading of this book were nothing short of invigorating..

Reading such a huge selection of thoughts of one of the most dynamic centuries that we have witnessed, it was no doubt a heated debate..

Starting from the roots of the church being the dominant force to Darwin, and “Religion is the opium of people” we finally came to the topic of the book, and discussed how there was in evolution of the thoughts itself in the book… from a very simple idea of “returning to the true forms ” like the greeks had been able to .. to actually having a program about how to go around accomplishing it… The book is a must read to understanding the architectural development of the 20th Century.