Women in Pakistan, have to "earn" respect in any field. As is well known, a woman carries a triple burden, and also has to work extra hard at every step to achieve acceptance. For many years’ Architecture has been a male dominant field. Female architects in Pakistan and all around the globe are ignored in this field. There has always been hesitation in society to entrust women with more serious things.
The stereotypes that society has for men and women have limited their abilities. It has built invisible boundaries that they fear breaking and doing something out of the box. These stereotypes destroy the ambitions, dreams, and talents they have in themselves. In architecture women usually face stereotypical assumptions that architecture is for men only and interior designing is for women.
Although men and women both indeed have different ways of thinking, it has been seen that having women architects on the team can bring about amazing results. Women are seen to have the capability of better understanding their clients. For residential designs, women opt to go for designs that are better adapted for home life as they have better insight into this sector.
Architecture is a reflection of society. How one's subconsciousness forms something and how it brings it together. Architecture is about how you define a space it’s how you think of the world, as it is said
“Architecture is a visual art and the buildings speak for themselves” – Julia Morgan
Many women in Pakistan are now breaking the stereotypes and making history in the world of architecture with their amazing works, despite the hurdles in this male-dominated field. These females are role models for future female architects in Pakistan.
Yasmin Lari is the first female architect of Pakistan. She is a design superhero and the biggest inspiration for our future female starchitecture. She has great contributions to the architecture of Pakistan. She worked on many projects which include
- Angoori Bagh Housing
- Taj Mahal Hotel, Karachi
- Finance and trade center
- Pakistan state Oil house
- Women’s Centre
She also worked for the conversation and restoration of some historical projects like Khairpur Heritage Centre and Sethi house in Sethi Mohallah.
After retirement in 2000 from architectural practice, she has been active as a heritage conservationist and national adviser of UNESCO. In 2020, she was awarded the Jane Drew prize for raising the profile of women in architecture.
Isbah Hassan is another amazing inspiration for female architects in Pakistan. She is CEO and chief architect at Issbah Hassan and Associates. She is na expert in the field of architecture and interior designing. She began her career at Fujikawa and Jhonson Architects. In 2018, she received UBL’s “Achievement of Excellence” award as an Architect and interior designer.
Some amazing works of Isbah Hassan are
- UBL Headquarters, Karachi
- UBL Bank, Lahore
- Kasim Kasuri Residence
- Salman Butt Residence
- Theme Park, Karachi
She has also been involved in Punjab Municipal Development Corporation Program for uplifting rural municipalities.
Nabeela Farooqi Nazir
Nabeela Farooqi Nazir is another outstanding female architect. She likes to display the personality of her client in her work. Before working from home she worked three years with Agha khan Housing Board, Karachi. She looked after small community-based construction projects in the Northern areas.
Working there she realized that houses are one of the main things that have separated class-conscious people. She wants to decrease this divide for which she is working to find materials and processes.
Zahra Zaka, principal architect at Axiz Architect is another example of a female architect making her name in the mens’ world of architecture. She established her firm Axiz architects in 2001. Her designs are innovative with cultural and environmental sensitivities. Some of her projects are
- DHA Phase IX (Prism) Entrance Gate
- Zakaullah’s Residence
- Medicare Hospital
- Almas, Packages Mall
Her firm workers closely with her clients to fulfill their needs and dreams, giving each project an individualistic style.
Although Women’s role in the workplace is complicated, increasingly women are making successful careers for themselves in male-dominated fields like architecture.
These female architects are changing the industry and are also working to ensure that young female architects in Pakistan feel inspired to keep going, keep dreaming, and not be afraid to forge their journeys in the field of architecture.