By Fareeha Qayoom
Something’s missing. Call it the absence of community- based design. Call it architecture for people. In any understanding of context, socially conscious architecture seems to be the missing component from our new building plans. The Lahore buildings need to be people-centered again. There is a growing need to put our architects, designers and builders back in touch with real people in real places. Believe it or not, looks are still everything. Image matters. Every individual or organization has a significant signature space that tells the world who they are. How come this thought process doesn’t translate well in the collective minds of the city of Lahore?
Why is Lahore becoming so ugly – especially the newly converted commercial district from a residential town called Gulberg? My goal in this issue was to reflect and engage the city’s imagination and aspirations. Achieving this required looking at the best designs of urban town planning in our city, a desire to embrace the past and the future and come up with some beautiful examples of urban landmarks. We, as a team came up with one example – the Mall. Unfortunately, we as a nation don’t have a hand in designing this historic town square. The credit goes to the British Raj. The Mall has been turning heads for a couple of centuries at least. It’s an extraordinary aesthetically built town square. We are trying to turn Gulberg into one but unfortunately, something is still missing. Enough already! I have flogged this dead horse to death in issue one but I as a resident of Lahore still can’t see my city going the tubes in this cavalier fashion, so there’s me still ranting on the subject!
By the way, introducing a new buzz word called “zoning” for this edition. I discovered it when I interviewed a live and working town planner in a small town of Texas called McKinney. This small town maybe small in American terms but it can beat our big town hollow in terms of proactive urban planning. Did you know they won’t pass your building plans if they find one single measly car parking space missing, they expect you to mow your lawns; they come and fine you if you have some signage up without a permit and they won’t allow you to cut down trees? Hmmm. Well, more later, happy reading!
This article was originally published in the print edition of Valuemag, June 2008, issue 2, under the section ‘ From the editor’s desk – June 2008’