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.