Yasmeen Lari, Pakistan’s first woman architect, has won the Royal Gold Medal for her remarkable humanitarian work. The 82-year-old architect has been acknowledged for her innovative approach towards designing sustainable homes, which are eco-friendly and cost-effective. Her work has helped the homeless and displaced communities of Pakistan to rebuild their lives, empowering them to become self-sufficient.
After the devastating floods and rains in 2022, which impacted millions of people in Pakistan, Lari and her team of architects and engineers immediately started constructing low-cost, low-tech and eco-friendly shelters in the flood-affected regions. The materials used in the construction of these homes were mud, lime, and bamboo, making them affordable and sustainable. Her innovative approach has not only addressed the urgent housing needs of those affected by natural disasters but also empowered communities to rebuild their homes themselves.
The Royal Gold Medal is one of the most prestigious awards for architecture worldwide, and Lari has become the first Pakistani, female from the Global South, Muslim of color, and an individual who has dedicated her life to serving the poor to win the award. She has been recognized for advocating zero-carbon self-build concepts for displaced populations. The award will be officially presented to her in June and was personally approved by King Charles III.
Lari believes that the award is a testament to the power of architecture in creating a better and sustainable world. She praised the Royal Institute of British Architects (RIBA) for its focus on shifting the architectural practice’s focus from wealth and privilege to a world suffering from rising poverty levels, disparities, and recurring disasters due to climate change. She hopes that young professionals will be encouraged to design for disadvantaged and homeless populations and implement principles to achieve climate resilience, sustainability, and eco-justice.
Yasmeen Lari is a beacon of hope for the homeless and displaced communities of Pakistan, and her innovative approach towards sustainable housing is an inspiration to architects worldwide. Her work is a testament to the power of architecture to create a sustainable and better world for all.