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Yasmeen Lari named winner of the Jane Drew Prize 2020

Pakistan’s first-ever female architect, Yasmeen Lari, has been awarded the Jane Drew Prize 2020 for her contribution to raising the profile of women in architecture and design

Lari, 79, joins the ranks of Zaha Hadid, Amanda Levete, Elizabeth Diller and Denise Scott Brown – who have all previously received the prize – part of the AJ / AR’s W Awards, which are being held on 6 March.

Lari is known for landmark buildings in Karachi, where she set up her practice after graduating from Oxford Brookes’ architecture school in 1964.

Her buildings include the Finance and Trade Centre (1983-89) and Pakistan State Oil House (1985-91).

Before these, she had designed the Anguri Bagh housing project in Lahore in 1973 and Lines Area Resettlement in 1980 – a complex of self-built housing for residents of a sprawling settlement covering more than 80ha of Karachi.

Finance and trade centre karachi 1989 yasmeen lari barefoot economy architectural review

Finance and trade centre karachi 1989 yasmeen lari barefoot economy architectural review

Lari designed the Finance and Trade Centre in Karachi

Lari later turned to ‘barefoot’ architecture, which aimed to tread lightly upon the plan and provide environmentally sustainable and participative solutions to lift up marginalised communities.

She started working in bamboo in 2007, providing community kitchens to refugees of the conflict in Swat in Khyber Pakhtunkhwa province and, later, building community centres on stilts after floods hit the Khyber Pakhtunkhwa and Sindh provinces.

Commenting on her latest award, Lari said: ‘I am touched and humbled to be included among the galaxy of architects who have received this prize.’

The prize is named after Jane Drew, an advocate for women in a male-dominated profession. Other previous winners include Odile Decq, Grafton Architects’ founders Yvonne Farrell and Shelley McNamara, Kathryn Findlay of Ushida Findlay and Eva Jiřičná.

Lari will be speaking at the W Lunch at Battersea Arts Centre in London on Friday 6 March – click here to book your seat.