The Heritage Foundation of Pakistan is a Pakistani non-profit with a wide array of social programming, and is here celebrated for their work on disaster recovery and prevention.
The Foundation was established in 1980 by Yasmeen Lari and her husband Suhail Zaheer Lari. Prior to her work with the Foundation, Yasmeen Lari established Lari Associates, Architects, Urban Designers in 1964, after becoming the first licensed female architect in Pakistan. Moreover, Lari provided a leading role in the formation of the architecture profession itself within Pakistan. As President of the Institute of Architects Pakistan (IAP) and first chair of the Pakistan Council of Architects and Town Planners, Lari was instrumental in bringing about recognition for the professions of architecture and town planning within Pakistan.
Her firm was opened with a mission of furthering traditional architecture — from mud buildings, to low income housing and informal settlements, to state of the art buildings — through the use of sustainable, local materials. Her Foundation would be established later, with a similar purpose.
The Foundation began its work in post-disaster reconstruction in the aftermath of the 2005 Pakistan earthquake. There, it developed Karavan Ghar, an emergency shelter made from debris of collapsed houses and local materials. The shelters were built by community members, university volunteers & local artisans under the direction of the Heritage Foundation.
In August 2010, the Foundation would respond to disaster again when severe historical floods displaced 20 million in Pakistan. The Foundation began to provide immediate relief by distributing food packages in Swat. Aided by past experimentation in the use of local materials and techniques, the Heritage Foundation developed a new low-cost option for speedy construction. The GreenKaravan Ghar built on the lessons of Karavan Ghar and was made without the use of wood, cement or steel. Units are made principally from bamboo and can be assembled in eight days. Despite their utility as an emergency shelter, the GreenKaravan Ghar are designed as permanent units and can be utilized as such.
Beyond their relief work, the Foundation has worked widely in all forms of sustainable development, including developing training programs for women to make products based on traditional craft skills, sustainable farming, and developing a remarkable cook stove which can be built by unskilled labor for only $7.
For more on Yasmeen’s extensive and groundbreaking career, please join us on Social Design Insights. We had a chance to talk with Yasmeen on April 13, 2017, where she detailed her journey and her strategies for building a more resilient Pakistan.