Pakistan’s first female architect wins UK royal award

Pakistan’s first female architect Yasmeen Lari has won UK’s King Royal Gold Medal for Architecture for her work championing zero-carbon self-build concepts for displaced populations.

“Congrats Yasmeen Lari on winning His Majesty the King’s Royal Gold Medal for Architecture!,” the British High Commission in Pakistan said in a tweet on Thursday.

The high commission also shared images of students from Pakistan, Bangladesh, and Britain who had gathered at Granny Square in London to “live build 2 zero/low carbon structures designed by Lari”.

One of the world’s highest accolades for architecture, the Royal Gold Medal is personally approved by the monarch and awarded to a person or group of people who have had a significant influence on the advancement of architecture, according to the Royal Institute of British Architects (RIBA).

Presented since 1848, past Royal Gold Medallists include Balkrishna Doshi (2022), Sir David Adjaye OBE (2021), Dame Zaha Hadid (2016), Frank Gehry (2000), Lord Norman Foster (1983), Frank Lloyd Wright (1941) and Sir George Gilbert Scott (1859).

The Royal Gold Medal will be officially presented to Yasmeen Lari in June 2023.

With a long and illustrious career, Lari has been a revolutionary force in Pakistan. She has had an immeasurable influence on the trajectory of architecture and humanitarian work in the country. Since officially retiring in 2000, she transferred her attention to creating accessible, environmentally friendly construction techniques to help people below the poverty line and communities displaced by natural disasters and the impact of climate change.

In 1980 she co-founded the Heritage Foundation of Pakistan with her husband, Suhail Zaheer Lari, pioneering the design of self-built sustainable shelters and housing, creating 50,000 dwellings.

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