Wade Award Winner Yasmin Lari Constructs $88 Flood-Proof Homes with Low-Tech, Natural Materials

Wade Award Winner Yasmin Lari Constructs $88 Flood-Proof Homes with Low-Tech, Natural Materials

Responding to the extensive 2022 floods that submerged a third of Pakistan, architect Yasmeen Lari, founder of the Heritage Foundation of Pakistan and recipient of the WADE Lifetime Achievement Award in 2018, pledged to construct one million flood-resistant homes. Over the past year, her foundation has overseen the construction of over 5,000 flood-resistant bamboo structures, each costing a mere 25,000 Pakistani rupees ($88). Explore the comprehensive report in SURFACES REPORTER (SR) below:

Cost-Effective and Sustainable Solution

Designed by Lari, prefabricated bamboo huts provide a swift, affordable, and accessible solution to housing needs. These homes are designed with a focus on flood resilience to address potential future challenges. In contrast to the prevailing use of concrete or steel in Pakistan, they employ vernacular building methods and low-tech,' natural materials inspired by "ancient wisdoms and techniques," as indicated by Lari.

Constructed from locally sourced earth, lime-covered ends for termite protection, and bamboo, these structures can be manually assembled. This methodology is integral to Lari's Barefoot Social Architecture—a zero-carbon, self-build approach aiding impoverished communities. Notably, the homes cost just 25,000 Pakistani rupees ($88), and the lime in the plaster and bamboo helps absorb and store carbon from the air, mitigating the climate crisis.

Earthquake-Proof Features of These Structures

Beyond contributing to sustainable living, these prefabricated bamboo huts serve as flood-resistant structures. Elevating them on platforms minimizes vulnerability to floodwaters, crucial in the flood-prone Sindh province where 33 million people were displaced last year.

With bamboo's rapid growth and carbon-absorbing properties, Lari emphasizes the environmental friendliness and widespread impact of her low-cost, participatory, and low-tech approach. Engineer Liu Kuwei dubs bamboo as "natural steel," recognizing its strength and versatility.

Yasmin Lari's Visionary Approach

What sets apart Lari's initiative is its empowering nature. Flood victims in Pakistan can rebuild their homes using Lari's design, often with the help of her foundation's free instructional YouTube videos.

This stands in contrast to Lari's criticism of the "international colonial charity model," advocating a shift away from treating people as mere aid recipients."

Image Courtesy: Heritage Foundation of Pakistan

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