Architecture That Inspires: The Work of Yasmeen Lari

At SPACE Architects, we believe that architecture has the power to inspire and change lives. We're always on the lookout for architects who are leading the way and doing something special. One such architect is Yasmeen Lari, whose work in Pakistan has been nothing short of revolutionary.

Yasmeen Lari is a renowned architect who has made significant contributions to the fields of sustainable architecture and social justice. Her exceptional work over the years has earned her numerous accolades, including the highly esteemed RIBA Royal Gold Medal for architecture in 2023, the first of which was personally approved by King Charles III. 

Known for her unique approach to architecture, Lari incorporates traditional techniques and materials with modern design concepts. More specifically, her designs tackle problems such as deforestation, pollution, and health risks faced by rural women. She does this by creating solutions that are tailored to the specific needs of the community, all while maintaining a systemic approach. 

Image © Heritage Foundation of Pakistan

Lari, who became the first female architect in Pakistan, retired from commercial practice in 2000 and formed a foundation that began working with distressed communities. Her goal was to help them rebuild their lives, using architecture as a tool for self-help.

Lari's approach is simple but effective: she only uses three readily available materials - bamboo, lime and earth - which can be reused or recycled. Her buildings are designed to address reginal challenges, such as flooding and earthquakes, with elevated spaces or lightweight structures made strong with cross bracing and trusses.

What's also truly remarkable about Lari's work is the four zeros: zero carbon, zero cost, zero waste and zero poverty, which she has achieved by refusing to use cement or steel and through employing local women to construct the buildings.

Lari's team train individuals in various building techniques so that the community is self-sufficient and can build new structures while maintaining existing ones. They prepare standardised panels off-site, and all of the buildings are naturally ventilated, meaning no mechanical plant is required.

Further demonstrating Lari's commitment to feminist and environmental activism is her adaptation of the Pakistani Chulah. Lari created a safe outdoor stove to replace the more dangerous cooking methods traditionally used by South Asian women, which exposed them to fires, burns and respiratory issues. She developed a smokeless, low-cost mud and line plaster stove positioned on an elevated mudbrick platform that helps protect it from flooding and provides a more hygienic and ventilated workspace.

The innovative methods that Lari employs have and will continue to transform how buildings are designed and built in developing nations such as Pakistan. Her strategies are a breath of fresh air in a world that relies so heavily on modern luxuries such as televisions, washing machines and air conditioning, as Lari's buildings remind us of the importance of returning to the basics in the face of the climate crisis.

For SPACE, Lari's values and achievements further motivate us to take action towards meaningful change, highlighting that through innovation and pooling our resources, we, too, can build structures that uplift, inspire, and ultimately make a positive difference in people's lives. 

* Find out more about Yasmeen Lari and the Heritage Foundation of Pakistan at
* Image 2 & 3 Courtesy © Heritage Foundation of Pakistan