Experts at the inaugural session of a conference on "Preserving Karachi's Heritage Challenges and Opportunities," stressed on Tuesday that infrastructure uplift should not hurt the city's heritage. They proposed to the architects to design new constructions in a way that should be compatible with the future requirements and should also be in line with the past heritage.
The Institute of Architects Pakistan - Karachi Chapter organized the conference at a hotel under the sponsorship by TPL Properties. At a panel discussion, which CEO of Dawn Media Group Hameed Haroon moderated, architecture experts namely Arif Hassan, chairman of Orangi Pilot Project- Research & Training Institute, Henry Squire, partner at Squire & Partners - a third generation Architectural Practice in London and Hamish Brown said that planners should design new developments but heritage should remain their source of inspiration.
They said that infrastructure development should go on to facilitate the public with growing civic and commuting needs in the metropolis but this should be done without defacing or destroying the old structures. They said that the architects may create a new heritage for future if the city has remnants from past.
They said that planners can learn from the buildings developed in the past. They said that the attention towards old structure is required for their preservations. They expressed concerns over the new high-rise buildings that are developed with a poor quality of architecture.
In the context of Karachi, they believed that the heritage buildings cannot be rehabilitated to their old designs but with some structural changes. However, they said that the infrastructure development has become a basic need for human globally but that also poses a threat to old buildings.
They said that infrastructure is crucial for cities but protection of heritage from their negative impacts should also be kept in view. They observed that the conflict between infrastructure development and heritage will continue. They said that the environmental degradation and collapse of utilities caused decay to the heritage structure in the metropolis.
They said that the heritage needs a favourable environment for its preservation and public and governments need to be sensitized to sense the significance of the historic constructions. Earlier, Henry Squire gave his presentation on 'Heritage - International Context' in which cited rehabilitation of London's old structures.
The second panel discussion was on 'Heritage - Karachi Context.' The session was moderated by Tariq Hasan and panelists included Dr. Noman Ahmed, Dr. Kaleemullah Lashari, AR Fazal Noor and Agha Maqsood Abbas, DG SBCA.
They said that economic viability of heritage sites is very crucial. Bigger question is how to reuse the heritage buildings. DG SBCA, Agha Maqsood was of the opinion that controversies between successive provincial and local governments resulted in delay of projects.
The third panel discussion was based on 'Prevailing laws for Heritage Buildings and Districts.' Moderated by Ramiz Baig, panel included Arif Hasan, Dr. Noman Ahmed, Marvi Mazhar and Haider Waheed. The speakers highlighted the rigidity of laws and lack of stakeholders' involvement during the process. They said that there should be more flexibility and choices when it comes to laws of preservation. They also emphasized on the need to motivate people for preservation of heritage buildings. They said that steps such as relaxation in property taxes may also be taken.