Pakistan’s First Female Architect Delivers Bamboo-Built Relief Shelters to Flooded Countryside
Everyone needs a pension project, and for the first-ever female architect in Pakistan, hers has taken on a critical infrastructure need—disaster relief housing.
Yasmeen Lari, now 81, is the cofounder of a nonprofit called the Heritage Foundation of Pakistan, which is making bamboo huts for Pakistanis stricken by floods.
Spending most of her career designing sleek, modern buildings for skylines, her retirement in 2005 was interrupted by a catastrophic earthquake that saw her helping locals to shelter themselves.
This, she told Fast Company, is where she came up with the idea for her low cost, low carbon, conical shelters of bamboo. These 12×12 huts have room for 5 people, and can be assembled quickly with rope and reed mats for the roof.
“You could not find other materials,” she said. “Everything was taking too much time, like bricks… You could find bamboo. And I said, ‘Okay, let’s give it a try.’”
Since June of this year, most of lowland Pakistan has at one time or another been underwater, and Sindh, one of the hardest-hit provinces, is calling for 1 million tents to house displaced persons.
Lari has had experience with floods before. In similar circumstances in 2010 she helped organize the building of thousands of these bamboo huts, which along with being progressively upgradable depending on the longevity of the displacement, can also easily be moved around as needs demand.
These ended up withstanding floods in 2012 and 2013, at which point some had even been raised up on bamboo stilts.
To facilitate the push for widespread adoption of this idea, Lari runs a training center for emergency architecture called Zero-Carbon Campus, where designs of the original bamboo hut have been upgraded with pre-fabricated bamboo panels that can quickly be fastened together with rope.
A team of five artisans from the Campus can build around 8 of these shelters a day, and Fast Company claim they survived the current flooding. However the artisans aren’t needed to assemble the shelter, and the Heritage Foundation of Pakistan has released easy YouTube guides for those who need to learn fast.
INTBAU Pakistan is an architectural organization trying to raise money for the construction of thousands of these shelters, as the floods in Pakistan continue to wreck havoc.