Architect Professor Yasmeen Lari, recipient of the highly coveted 2023 RIBA Royal Gold Medal, was celebrated this week with a grand dinner in London. Announced as the award winner around a month prior, Lari is a globally admired figure due to her continuous efforts in developing zero-carbon self-build designs for communities displaced by extreme weather events.
Yasmeen Lari, Pakistan’s first female architect, heritage conservationist, and social activist, wins the Royal Gold Medal, awarded by the Royal Institute of British Architects (RIBA). With the award, RIBA acknowledges Yasmeen Lari’s work championing zero-carbon self-build concepts for displaced populations due to climate change.
“I was so surprised to hear this news and totally delighted! I never imagined that as I focus on my country’s most marginalized people — venturing down uncharted vagabond pathways — I could still be considered for the highest of honors in the architectural profession,” Lari said. “There are innumerable opportunities to implement principles of circular economy, de-growth, transition design, eco-urbanism, and what we call Barefoot Social Architecture (BASA) to achieve climate resilience, sustainability, and eco-justice in the world.”
RIBA President Simon Allford stated: “Lari’s work in championing zero carbon and zero waste construction is exemplary. She has reacted imaginatively and creatively making affordable projects that address the real and often urgent need for accommodation and basic services but with generosity and an eye for the potential of everyday materials and crafts to make architecture at all scales. Her way of working also addresses the physical and psychological damage caused by major natural disasters – disasters that will inevitably be ever more prevalent in our densely populated and climate-challenged planet.”
Lari has focused on the use of traditional building techniques and materials to create environmentally sustainable and disaster-resistant structures. Lari’s work is important in the context of climate change because it emphasizes the need for sustainable architecture that takes into account the impact of human activities on the environment.
By promoting the use of local, renewable, and natural materials, she advocates for a shift away from carbon-intensive building practices that contribute to climate change. With the increasing frequency and intensity of natural disasters such as floods, earthquakes, and storms, there is a growing need for structures that can withstand these events. Lari’s focus on disaster-resistant architecture is crucial in helping communities adapt to the impacts of climate change.