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Yasmeen Lari is Pakistan’s first female architect and one of the most successful providers of disaster relief shelters in the world. She has built over 36,000 houses for victims of floods and earthquakes in Pakistan since 2010.
Shunning the structurally weak, mass-produced houses offered by international organisations, Lari uses vernacular techniques and local materials such as lime and bamboo. Her houses have a tiny carbon footprint and are simple enough for people to build themselves. With this, she hopes to demonstrate the role that architecture can play in humanitarian aid.
“I often tell my colleagues, let us not treat disaster-affected households as destitute, needing handouts … but with dignity,” she says.
Lari once built giant concrete and steel buildings for clients like the Pakistani State Oil company. But when disaster struck in 2005, she turned to traditional techniques to design flood and earthquake proof buildings for people in remote regions.
She returns to the Sindh region to see how her homes survived the 2013 floods and helps villagers in Awaran after the 2013 Balochistan earthquake.