The Fukuoka Prize Committee has selected Pakistan’s first female architect Yasmeen Lari for Japan’s prestigious Fukuoka Asia Cultural Prize 2016 in recognition of her outstanding contributions towards preserving or creating Asian culture.
Yasmeen was encouraged to become an architect by her father, who was a public officer in charge of city development. She not only worked on contemporary architectural projects in the private housing and commercial sectors, but also tackled the challenges of improving the living conditions of the slum inhabitants and illegal residents, and designing low-cost housing. In 1969, she was elected a member of the Royal Institute of British Architects. Later, she became the President of the Institute of Architects, and then the first Chairperson of the Pakistan Council of Architects and Town Planners, and has had a great influence on contemporary architecture and city development in Pakistan. Meanwhile, she designed the Finance and Trade Centre (1989) and the Pakistan State Oil House (1991) in Karachi, and her work was included in 20th Century World Architecture (2012, Phaidon Press, UK).
Yasmeen’s efforts have earned high praise across society, and in 2006, she was selected as one of the ‘60 Women Contributing to the 60 Years of UNESCO.’ She also participated in a number of international conferences such as the UN World Conference on Disaster Risk Reduction, and made a valuable contribution as a panellist to argue the importance not only of construction/development but also of cultural heritage preservation in disaster stricken areas. At the first Chicago Architecture Biennial in 2015, she presented an exhibition on ‘No-Cost/Low-cost Alternatives for the Dispossessed’ for internal refugee camps in Pakistan, which won international acclaim.
The Fukuoka Prize aims to foster and increase awareness of the value of Asian cultures, and to institute a broad framework for exchange and mutual learning among the people of Asia. Fukuoka Prize, which marks its 27th anniversary this year, has so far presented this prestigious award to 102 leading figures in their respective fields. Pakistan’s famous ‘qawwali’ singer late Ustad Nusrat Fateh Ali Khan and cultural expert Dr. Uxi Mufti are among the recipients of this prestigious award.