Jun 305 min read

Yasmeen Lari: Revolutionizing Architecture for Social Impact

written by

Nishita Verma

Yasmeen Lari, Pakistan's first qualified female architect and co-founder of the Heritage Foundation of Pakistan, has made a remarkable mark in the world of architecture. Her dedication to building disaster-resistant homes for marginalized communities and her innovative approach to sustainable design has earned her the prestigious RIBA Royal Gold Medal. In this blog, we explore six of Yasmeen Lari's transformative projects that showcase her visionary mindset and commitment to social impact.

1. Angoori Bagh Social Housing, Pakistan, 1973

Yasmeen Lari's pioneering project, Angoori Bagh, stands as Pakistan's first social housing scheme. Designed to provide affordable homes for low-income families, the 787 dwellings are arranged in clusters with single, double, and triple-storey blocks. The inclusion of terraces extends the living space, enhancing the quality of life for the residents. Lari's design considered the cultural and social needs of the community, ensuring that the housing scheme fostered a sense of belonging and community. The project remains a testament to her forward-thinking approach and her ability to blend functionality with human-centric design.

Yasmeen Lari - Revolutionizing Architecture for Social Impact - image 1

Source: dezeen.com

2. Mud Brick One Room House, Pakistan, 2011

The Mud Brick One Room House exemplifies Yasmeen Lari's expertise in disaster-resilient design. These homes feature bamboo roofs built into brick walls, providing structural stability during natural disasters. Covered in mud, residents can express their creativity by designing the front of their homes, fostering a sense of ownership and identity. This project was part of Lari's larger initiative to rebuild communities affected by floods and earthquakes. By using locally sourced materials and traditional building techniques, she ensured the homes were not only sustainable but also culturally relevant. The simplicity and effectiveness of the design have made it a model for disaster relief housing worldwide.

Yasmeen Lari - Revolutionizing Architecture for Social Impact - image 2

Source: re-thinkingthefuture.com

3. Women's Centre, Pakistan, 2011

Designed to uplift vulnerable communities, the Women's Centre is a cylindrical bamboo building raised on stilts to avoid flooding. As part of a larger humanitarian project, it offers a safe space for education, healthcare, and empowerment. The Women's Centre, alongside a school and health clinic, serves as a beacon of hope for marginalized populations. This project highlights Lari's commitment to gender equality and community development. By creating spaces that support women's education and economic independence, she addresses some of the root causes of poverty and social inequality.

Yasmeen Lari - Revolutionizing Architecture for Social Impact - image 3

Source: dezeen.com

4. Zero Carbon Cultural Centre, Pakistan, 2017

As the largest bamboo structure in Pakistan, the Zero Carbon Cultural Centre showcases Yasmeen Lari's commitment to sustainability. This remarkable pavilion, enclosed by decorative bamboo screens, serves as a hub for social gatherings and workshops. It fosters creativity, community engagement, and empowerment within poor and marginalized communities. The design of the centre reflects Lari's dedication to reducing carbon footprints and promoting environmentally friendly building practices. The structure not only provides a functional space but also serves as an educational tool, demonstrating the potential of sustainable architecture.

Yasmeen Lari - Revolutionizing Architecture for Social Impact - image 4

Source: dezeen.com

5. Lari Octa Green Shelters, Pakistan, 2018

Continuing her mission to provide affordable and sustainable housing, Yasmeen Lari designed the Lari Octa Green Shelters. These mud-covered bamboo shelters are located on the site of the Zero Carbon Cultural Centre and provide low-cost lodging for visitors attending conferences at the community centre. These shelters exemplify Lari's dedication to creating dignified living spaces for disadvantaged individuals. The design incorporates passive cooling techniques and natural ventilation, making the shelters comfortable and energy-efficient. This project further underscores Lari's belief in the power of architecture to improve living conditions and promote social equity.

Yasmeen Lari - Revolutionizing Architecture for Social Impact - image 5

Source: dezeen.com

6. Islamic Arts Biennale Pop-up Mosques, Saudi Arabia, 2023

In a unique project showcasing cultural and architectural fusion, Yasmeen Lari designed three dismantlable mosques made from bamboo. These pop-up mosques feature prayer spaces surrounded by colonnades and pyramidal roofs, offering a serene and enjoyable environment for worship. The design challenges the notion of concrete structures and brings beauty and spirituality to prayer spaces. This project highlights Lari's innovative approach to temporary architecture, providing functional and aesthetically pleasing spaces that can be easily assembled and disassembled. It also reflects her ability to adapt traditional architectural elements to modern contexts, creating spaces that are both meaningful and practical.

Yasmeen Lari - Revolutionizing Architecture for Social Impact - image 6

Source: dezeen.com

Yasmeen Lari's Visionary Impact on Architecture

Yasmeen Lari's exceptional contributions to the field of architecture have reshaped our understanding of what is possible. Through her six must-see projects, we have witnessed the harmonious fusion of visionary design, sustainable practices, and community engagement. Yasmeen Lari's work serves as an inspiration for architects and enthusiasts alike, reminding us of the immense potential that architecture holds in shaping a better future.

Her approach to architecture goes beyond aesthetics and functionality; it is deeply rooted in social responsibility and environmental consciousness. By focusing on low-cost, sustainable building materials and techniques, Lari addresses pressing global issues such as climate change, poverty, and disaster resilience. Her projects demonstrate that architecture can be a powerful tool for social change, providing not only shelter but also dignity and hope to those who need it most.


In conclusion, Yasmeen Lari's legacy is a testament to the transformative power of architecture. Her innovative designs and commitment to social justice continue to inspire new generations of architects to think beyond conventional boundaries and embrace a more sustainable and inclusive approach to building.


Q1: Who is Yasmeen Lari?

A1: Yasmeen Lari is Pakistan's first qualified female architect and co-founder of the Heritage Foundation of Pakistan, known for her innovative and sustainable designs.

Q2: What was Yasmeen Lari's first social housing project?

A2: Yasmeen Lari's first social housing project was Angoori Bagh Social Housing, which provided affordable homes for low-income families in Pakistan in 1973.

Q3: What is the Mud Brick One Room House?

A3: The Mud Brick One Room House is a disaster-resilient home designed by Yasmeen Lari in 2011. It features bamboo roofs and mud walls for stability and residents' creativity.

Q4: What is the purpose of the Women's Centre?

A4: The Women's Centre, designed by Yasmeen Lari in 2011, serves as a safe space for education, healthcare, and empowerment, offering support to vulnerable communities.

Q5: What is unique about the Islamic Arts Biennale Pop-up Mosques?

A5: The Islamic Arts Biennale Pop-up Mosques, designed by Yasmeen Lari in 2023, are made from bamboo and can be dismantled. They provide serene, beautiful prayer spaces surrounded by colonnades and pyramidal roofs.

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Nishita Verma

Nishita Verma

A creative graphic designer with a wanderlust for exploring diverse cultures and capturing their essence through travel.