Journal of Research in Architecture & Planning
NED University of Engineering & Technology

ISSN 2519-5050 (Online), ISSN 1728-7715 (Print)
Listed in HEC recognized Y category Journal
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  Ghania Shams Khan

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“To look at emotion and desire in architecture is not to discount the simple fact that most buildings have a practical purpose. But that practical purpose is rarely pursued with perfect detachment or indifferent calculation. To build and to inhabit are not small actions, and it is hard to undertake them with coolness.”

Rowan Moore's text ‘Why We Build’ talks about desires shaping and giving form to the spaces we inhabit (Moore R. 20213). Practicality is always underlined by a necessity that gives rise to a desire. In my grandparent's house from the ’50s, all the interior spaces of the house were clustered around a sehen1. The spaces were connected by a seamless concrete floor, commonly present in most houses built in the ’50s and ’60s. This had a very practical purpose to it. Every summer the whole house was hosed down with water. Because of a seamless floor that connected all the rooms to the lounge and the lounge to the sehen, water could easily flow outside into a drain in the sehen. It proved to be sustainable in many ways as it lowered the temperature of the whole house for most of the day. There is a very simplistic desire behind a concrete floor.
Domestic spaces of such a typology are nostalgic and a part of a collective memory of houses and apartments from the 50s and 60s. Many houses in Karachi within areas like North Nazimabad, P.E.C.H.S., and Bahadurabad are examples of a regional language that developed in these two decades. When it comes towards nostalgia and memory we often find the built spaces that preserved a memory were heritage from the colonialist period. A built reminiscent of power and dominance. But there is another kind of collective memory that talks about the simplistic details shared earlier. This detail is a part of a typology that speaks to another kind of heritage. A heritage that we reclaimed in post-colonial times. Using the lens of Art Deco homes, the paper studies the transformation of a global movement into a local aesthetic. By recording the narrative of the inhabitants of these structures, this research can create a conversation about the sensitivities we have towards these vernacular techniques that developed a modern and brutalist-inspired heritage for the city of Karachi. The city’s heritage is more than the colonial architecture found in the old town. These modernist structures present another kind of heritage, unique to the architectural vocabulary of Karachi, and represent a climatic sensibility that developed over the 20th century, building a modernist identity of Karachi’s architecture.


Modern Architecture, Art Deco, Post-Colonial, Collective Memory Nostalgia

Volume 34 Issue 1
ISSN (P) 1728-7715 - ISSN (E) 2519-5050
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