Architect, Heritage Conservationist, Architectural Historian and Humanitarian Aid Worker
Yasmeen Lari is the first female architect and among the best-known architects of Pakistan. She graduated from Oxford School of Architecture (now Oxford Brookes University) and was elected member of the Royal Institute of British Architects (RIBA) in 1969. Lari retired from architectural practice in 2000. Her architectural works are included in the Phaidon Books UK (2013) publication devoted to the best examples of 20th century architecture. Lari is included among the 60 Women who have contributed the most towards UNESCO’s objectives. In recognition of her services towards architectural profession, heritage safeguarding and humanitarian assistance, the President of Pakistan awarded Lari Sitara-i-Imtiaz (The Star of Distinction) in 2006 and Hilal-i-Imtiaz (The Crescent of Distinction) in 2014.
Yasmeen Lari co-founded Heritage Foundation of Pakistan in 1980 with her husband, noted historian Suhail Zaheer Lari, with the purpose of undertaking research on and safeguarding Pakistan’s cultural heritage. The Heritage Foundation of Pakistan is the 2002 recipient of the UN Recognition Award for the promotion of culture and peace. 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 in 1983.
Since the 2005 earthquake in Pakistan, Lari devised several programs for post–disaster communities: Heritage and Tradition for Rehabilitation and Development, Build Back Safer with Vernacular Methodologies (BBSVM), and the women-centered Community Based Disaster Risk Management (CBDRM). This formed the basis for the World’s largest zero carbon footprint shelter-program, as well as disaster-compliant low-cost initiatives, fostering pride and self-reliance among local communities. By linking heritage with rehabilitation and development through sustainable vernacular construction techniques and the revitalization of craft skills, the programs have led to the large-scale economic empowerment of women and economic regeneration within communities.