Thursday, February 3

'An architect has a solution'

Architect Rashid Rasheed says most of the people can't afford planned houses

Rashid Rasheed did his Bachelors in Architect from National College of Arts in 1992. Presently, he is one of the partners of Designers East – a company dealing in various projects and aspects of construction. In his mid-thirties, Rashid has an ample understanding of his country and knows the world too as he is a widely travelled man. Due to this, he knows his job well.
Following are excerpts from a tête-à-tête with him:
"Compact houses have always existed traditionally in two forms-city and rural architecture-the later remained unchanged for centuries. City was always compact due to impending wars. People had had small living places due to population density. Fortified areas remained so till the British arrived who brought the Bungalow culture. Mass housing has been in vogue always, but traditional craftsmen used to have training of ages behind them. Prosperous areas fetched specialised people from adjoining areas. Traditionally, architect did not have any role in low-cost housing except for bigger projects. Situation changed in 1947 as we were left with the poorest provinces except the Punjab. Crude experimentation continued and architecture flourished with certain pitfalls as the job was done by contractors and masons. But a sort of rustic architecture flourished in the 70s when mass migration to cities took place resulting in organic growth of towns, and ill-planed houses generating health issues and other related problems. That was the time when the middle class came to the fore and continue to grow stupendously. Today we have the largest middle class, which is definitely troubled during the summertime due to high electricity costs. They cannot really afford planned houses and specialised individuals due to limited finances. The West solved accommodation congested housing through automation, but here serious social issues are involved.
"In Pakistan, architect's involvement is very rare except specialised projects and for aesthetic reasons only. Less money is spent on resolving real issues. We don't plan for future rather people add rooms to their already ill-planned houses. Secondly, poor transportation system result in mass housing causing more problems to the existing infrastructure. People can't reside far from their work places. Moreover, the government has not concentrated on localised and improvised solutions. That is why we do not have regimented system. Plus family system – remaining in one small house – has to do a lot with the present maladies, which is a queer phenomenon in this part of the world.
"Interestingly, solutions already existed and lessons we knew previously. But we have stopped practising those and resorted to unrealistic approach. Now people ain't looking at compact houses with automation. Haphazard houses cause diseases. We need to educate our people about our climatic conditions and housing requirements. Architects can help in changing existing infrastructures, but that is not beyond the extent of damage control. Insulation cannot make a big difference, but properly planned houses can be of great use in summers."
– By Aamer Waqas Ch

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