Architect Faiz Kidwai is a Founder/Partner, Consultants Group, Pakistan. He is senior member of Rotary in Pakistan and remained Governor Rotary International Pakistan & Afghanistan during years 2005-6. Held numerous positions with Rotary International both at local and International levels. Presently he is Chairman, Rotary Pakistan literacy Missioný, Founder & Chair Rotary Leadership Institute (Pakistan & Afghanistan Division)., Founder & Chair, Rotary Humanitarian Trust.
ARCHI TIMES (AT): Tell us about your early schooling, professional education and your background?
Faiz Kidwai (FK): After doing my matric from Habib Public School and Intermediate from D J College Karachi, I completed my Bachelors In Architecture from Dawood College of Engineering and Technology in 1983. In those days it was affiliated with NED University of Engineering and Technology. I then joined Karachi Development Authority (KDA) and worked in Design bureau until 1989. In 1987, I decided to start my own practice and, alongside my Job, continued the same. But then realized that in order to get into serious consultancy I have to burn my boat. Thus finally I left my job at KDA.
AT: What compelled you to pursue a career in architecture?
FK: Not any childhood dream or any early age flair for art and architecture as some may say; but simply a decision influenced by my father who guided me because this was one profession which had a lot of scope to be innovative as an architect and successful as an entrepreneur; something attracting my interest and helping me move towards social entrepreneurship.
AT: So are you satisfied with it?
FK: I am satisfied as far as selection of this profession is concerned but disappointed with the happenings in this profession. Social and moral decay in our society has affected this profession as well in Pakistan. Honestly speaking and exceptional apart, you cannot succeed or even survive in your practice if you don’t compromise. This has been most challenging for me as my teachings both at home and at all my alma-maters don’t allow me for same. You have to be financially strong from your background in order to have a sustained as well as fair practice making no compromise on your professional responsibilities.
AT: Tell us about your architectural firm practice background?
FK: As informed before, it all started in 1987 and then by 1990 we were able to give it a proper direction. Consultants Group was thus brought into its present shape in 1991. Architect Aslam Akhund, Architect HafeezHabibi and myself got engaged into a partnership. We had a vision to develop it as a leading architecture, engineering, planning and project management firm of Pakistan always believing in flexibility, diversity and expansion. We purposely didn’t name the company referring to either our names or initials. Rather we have a philosophy of flexibility in growth and extended ownership. Anyone who contributes in the growth of a company has invested a stake in it and it will be very unfair not to recognize same. There are many stories and that include some most successful individual practices whereby the businesses named after individuals; with their absence, either simply vanished or drastically trimmed down. I feel it is most unfair that an organization reaches its peak and then vanishes only because of the absence of one individual. People don’t consider the fact that enormous effort, time and stakes are invested by so many professionals and by the support team members towards the success and growth of a company. I think it is time to move towards a more structured professional practice. We therefore tried to deviate from the routine practices and be different.
AT: Do you face any challenges in a partnership based firm as partnerships hardly succeed in our environment?
FK: You are absolutely right, partnerships are difficult to carry on and specially in case of our country there are hardly any successful examples specially in a professional set up like architecture or engineering. But our has not just succeeded rather we have also set an example that if you are honest with each other and are sincere in your approach there is no reason you cannot succeed.
In our case one biggest reason for success is that we never fought on financial issues. We have blind faith in each other and every partner believes in doing good to each other.
I feel there can be nothing better than partnerships as the efforts get multiplied. In our case we are at least three time bigger than what we would have been in case of a sole proprietorship firm. More resources, more efforts, more opportunities and more success.
AT: Did u receive any support from senior professionals while you initiated your new setup?
FK: Very limited support. Rather we at times faced many challenges due to our seniors attitudes and which was quite disappointing. I think some of our seniors were either scared with the new additions or lacks confidence in themselves. Our generation had gone through a torrid time since the time we were graduating. I recall there were some building control related amendments initiated by our seniors at that time whereby restricting the practice of new generation architects and we (my generation) vehemently opposed it and succeeded in its withdrawal.
AT: Is your company focused only in practicing architecture and urban planning or getting into other areas of consultancy as well?
FK: We are certainly more focused in architecture and urban planning related projects but also believe in diversification. More than 60% is dedicated to architecture design and planning works while remaining in other areas of engineering and project management. We have and are further expanding our in-house expertise in all allied disciplines. We have a department for Research and Development where we try to obtain latest innovations and development in various fields especially related to alternate energy and water resource / management. As architects we need to be more equipped with knowledge and application in many support areas. I think with fast growing development in engineering sector it is essential to have in-house expertise rather than banking on associate professionals who at times are extremely tied up with other works. Basically it is our responsibility to give appropriate solutions to our client and thus the best thing is to get ourselves equipped.
AT: What are your views on what’s happening in urban Karachi architecture?
FK: In Karachi we have already destroyed the quality of urban architecture which use to be its strength and because of which in those years our city was recognized as a modern urban city. Karachi was dominated by a style and character of its own. It was perhaps one of those cities which had world’s oldest mass transit program. It began with Tram ways and then got extended to circular railway network but all vanished. The first tram was presented to this city in 1885 and it was expanded until 1975 when its operations were closed down. Today, one of the world’s largest metropolis has no mass transit or public transportation program at all.
Karachi had a life style of its own; the architectural character of its past combined with all sorts of recreation and entertainments i.e. coffee shops, clubs, theaters, social interaction, cultural domination, cohesiveness etc; rated it amongst the modern cities of the world having high quality of living standards; but all is now history as according to most recent survey on the index of Economic Intelligence Unit, Karachi is considered as one of the least liveable cities in the world with the global ranking of 134 out of 140 cities. It is even worse than cites like Harare of Zimbabwe, Douala of Cameroon and Kiev of Ukraine, which are not such popular as Karachi. Economic Intelligence Unit measures the liveablity index of the major cities on the basis of stability, infrastructure, education and healthcare, culture and environment. The Economist Intelligence Unit’s liveability rating most appropriately reflect the individual’s lifestyle of most citizens of Karachi. Even those living in posh areas and paying heavy taxes are deprived of their basic rights to have quality infrastructure as well as uninterrupted utilities like water and electricity in their locality and homes.
A city is always recognized by the people who belong to it and then it is these people who lead the way to make a city livable. Today, Karachi is a city which belongs to nobody and no one owns it but at the same time everyone wants to get maximum out of it but the fact remains that the city is true depicting the quality of people living in it as it is we who are compromising living in substandard condition. Since our independence as a nation it is the most sought after city due to its economic pull but at the same time the least recognized city in terms of ownership. At present there is total chaos in Urban Karachi Architecture and the reason for same is bad governance and lack of ownership. Even the professionals involved with this city has not done justice to it. Karachi is dominated by various mafia groups and which also includes professional intellects/critics who have in process of serving each other’s interest have also failed in their respective responsibilities to guide all towards a better future. I would like to question these critics that what positive contribution/s have they made in terms of giving better quality of life to our citizens ? Am sorry but the fact remains that most of us who matter are part of this destruction and we will be leaving behind some real bad examples in the history to follow. According to unconfirmed reports the population of Karachi (if declared as per recent census) suggests it to be the second most populated city of the world. How ever in terms of quality of life it is one of the worst. This simply indicates that inspite of extremely poor civic services this city is most attractive due to its economic potential and opportunities for all sects of life. But at the same time none of us are ready to raise our voice for better quality of life; which we certainly deserve most.
AT: Would you like to tell us something about your involvement in the project related to improvement of Saddar and Empress Market alongwith its surrounding areas?
FK: It has been long that we are trying to bring back the lost identity of saddar. Not much can really be done in terms of built architecture as most due to our own negligence is already lost but we can certainly restore the urban spaces of past and transform them into activities which can respond to the socio-cultural and economic needs of the area. Our main objective is to convert Saddar and its adjoining areas back into a destination place rather than a simple thoroughfare. A comprehensive plan based on socio-economic studies and by involving all stake holders is guiding us to reach some solutions.
The entire design is governed by the human factor and emphasis is given to incorporate spaces alongside the built structures of past. Small design interventions can make a significant difference to the attractiveness of a space and the way it is approached and used. Hopefully it will help reinforce the vision for the kind of place we want to create.
Some simple initiatives can bring drastic change in the environment. Reorganisation of spaces alone can boost the area. Developing parking zones, properly managed out door space or open spaces, uplifting of infra structure, removing the over head electric and other cables with underground replacement, standardized signage etc are some of the interventions needed.
We need to make the pedestrian moment comfortable and attractive. There are invaluable assets which can be integrated together to activate life in these areas. We can revitalize our old town area by making best use of the available assets or resources and converting them into opportunities for socio economic and cultural integration as well as enhancement. The communities living in these areas will bring to them a sense of pride while those who pass by or use it as a thoroughfare and all others will find it a purposeful destination.
It is indeed a big challenge as it’s not just a matter of preparing some attractive designs rather its execution is more important and subsequently the factor which will govern its success is the component of sustainability ; a challenge which still need to be addressed.
The overall transformation of urban spaces and urban centers will have a long term impact both socially as well economically and we need to address issues related to sustainability as well as adaptability specially in case of increased activity and physical changes happening in the area.
While developing these spaces we are also taking into consideration use of techniques, ideas and material which are easy to handle.
We have also suggested that in order to ensure sustainability of project and all efforts induced,we need to involve local community at all levels of project. We can get into Public private partnership giving priority to local community of the area.. There are many opportunities to raise funds which can take care of the maintenance and further development programs but in order to succeed for same it is important to initiate a separate company having meaningful participation from public and private sector.
AT: Would you like to share your vision about adaptive reuse of buildings or spaces in the saddararea and are you facing any challenges in implementation of your ideas ?
FK: First of all it is important to understand the meaning of adaptive reuse. I would agree with its concept as a compromise between historic preservation and demolition. In the context of Karachi where we are witness and participant of the process where majority of our past has already been destroyed while the remaining past is on verge of destruction;we should seriously think for adaptive reuse of these building as well spaces so as to prevent it from further destruction.
We have indeed faced and am sure will be facing many challenges but when you get involved in such type of project in an environment like ours; you cannot expect roses being presented to you. We are committed to serve this project to the best of its need and will continue to respond for same at all levels. To us the process doesn’t end on the drawing board alone but it is something much beyond it.
We have just started and it’s a long way to go. I will give you one such example and that is of Jahangir Park which is now nearing completion as being part of one of the activities planned for the area.
We all know that Jahangir Park for many years remain under control of drug addicts and some land mafia groups. It was due to shear commitment of the Chief Minister Syed Murad Ali Shah that inspite of tremendous opposition from some this place finally got vacated and was handed over for development works. It was indeed a challenge to decide the future of this place which has seen tremendous diversified activities in past.
Ideally speaking it should have been a green open space with no boundaries and coming out of it could have been a large urban space in the center of the area. But in view of our socio cultural dynamics of our city which are controlled by all sorts of corrupt as well as negative elements; any such intervention would have been a disaster. The space of original Jahangir Park area has already been reduced by encroached activities around the park and which includes some markets as well as a large mosque etc.
Thus an appropriate solution was to develop a space which can generate diversified interests. Numerous rest, recreation and other related activities were incorporated. An amphitheater was designed for accommodating 800 to 1000 people providing the youth as well as amateurs with an opportunity to share their talent . It can become an activity zone for youth and play important role for development of art, culture and even for those who want to master themselves in public speaking. Schools can also be encouraged to use this facility for their related activities.
The plan also included an area for animatronic dinosaurs as it besides giving an added attraction will also provide education related exposure for the children. Similarly an area was kept for aviary for interest of some. Green spaces, food hawkers, children playing equipment are some other activities planned in the area.
The park was designed to have grilled boundary from all sides so that the outer and inner spaces get visually connected to each other but due to the encroachment of some illegally occupied shops and inability of our administration to remove them the park had to see emergence of two huge boundary walls giving the feeling of a fort. It is indeed so3mething unimaginable and we need to ensure that same is removed . I must admit here that it is not easy to work with the present mind sets of many asthey lack of professionalism but its an opportunity to guide them for a change.
AT: But some feel that Jahangir Park should have restored purely as a park and its historic identity shouldn’t have been changed?
FK: Let me first share the history of Jahangir Park as many may not be aware of same.
A valuable piece of land was donated by Khan Bahadur Behramji Jahangirji Rajkot wale a resident of Karachi and a member of the then Sindh Sabah.
It was initially known as Behramji Bagh and which was inaugurated on Naorouze Day in 1883. Later on there was change in its usage and it was converted into a sports ground where cricket was being played. A pavilion was added in 1920 and the bagh started holding cricket matches for local clubs as well schools. With increased political activity in 30s and 40s it became a hub for political meetings.
Lt.Col C.B.Rubie a britisharmy men played significant role in promotion of cricket in Karachi and organized as well as played many matches on this ground. In recognition to his services and after his death in 1939 a tournament named Rubie Shield Cricket was initiated and played at this ground.
The famous Rubei Shield School Tournament produced famous cricketers like legendary Hanif Mohammad, Wallis Mathais, Muhammad Munaf, IkramElahi, Intikhab Alam, AntaoD’Souza,Mushtaq Mohammad and Mohammad Farooq. The venue also served as venue to hold many other cricket tournaments. Subsequently we saw a portion of land been illegally encroached it was surrounded by encroached shops as well as a large mosque on two of its sides. The place remained abandoned for a long time and all sorts of non social activities took its root at this place. It became a den for drug addicts and other non social elements. Some land mafia group also occupied a piece of land at the place which was totally abandoned and became a NO GO area for others. When our team visited the area for survey we received all sorts of threats as well as warnings to leave the premises and not to get involved in the project or face dire consequences. But we resisted the threats only because in Syed Murad Ali Shah, Chief Minister Sindh we saw keen interest as well sincere desire to do some thing good for this place and for the city. So we though that its worth taking the risk.
As explained earlier and looking at historic perspective we found numerous activities happening in this area and the main spirit of the person who donated this land was not just to create a Bagh or a Garden or a Park but to make this urban space accessible for general public who may use it for activities of their choice as well as interest. This spaceas informed, has seen multiple activities in past. It served as a park, cricket ground, library, political gatherings, religious activities, numerous social and anti-social activities etc. Thus the value is of the space and not merely the park . Our objective is to restore space and provide an activity which can ensure long term security as well as sustainability to public.
Karachi has seen revival as well as addition of many parks but we are also facing challenges for its maintenance . Parks and open spaces should be activity basedwith involvement of community and some restricted role of private sector. As it will also be able to generate some limited funds; makingthese spaces self-sustainable. We have seen in past that in majority parks and open public spaces have been grabbed by land mafia and same will happen in future if we do not change our approach and be more pragmatic.
Thus we decided to have a combination of activities which maynot just cater interest of all but must also look into aspects of limited fund generation. Furthermore the idea is to make this space part of the extended entertainment zone planned for Empress Market and its surrounding area.
AT: What do you think is the future of our cities or what kind of cities are we going to have?
FK: The future of our cities is in our hand and it is our professional as well moral responsibility to present quality life to our citizens. It is sad and unfortunate that our citizens are immune to some inhuman living conditions .Living alongside open sewage drains, inhuman environment, unsafe drinking water, almost nonexistent public transport, poor health and education etc, In short it is unimaginable living we have given to our citizens.Now is the time to move forward and present them a living which is decent and human.
Ideally speaking we should be moving towards SMART city concept based on ICT. The future of our cities will be dependent on how quickly we adapt Information and Communication Technology for the benefit of general public.
We need to have short term SMART interventions and long term SMART strategic development program.
Infrastructure and services are key components of any city and need to be invariably addressed.
Based on aspirations and needs of the citizens we need to aim at developing the entire urban eco-system, which is represented by the four pillars of comprehensive development that includes; institutional, physical, social and economic infrastructure. This can be a long term goal and be incrementally implemented adding on layers of ‘smartness’. Our objective should be to provide core infrastructure and give a decent quality of life to the citizens, a clean and sustainable environment with application of ‘Smart’ Solutions.
The core infrastructure elements in a smart city may include adequate water supply, assured electricity supply, sanitation including solid waste management, efficient urban mobility and public transport, affordable housing especially for the poor, robust IT connectivity & digitalization, good governance, especially e-Governance & citizen participation, sustainable environment, safety & security of citizens particularly women, children & the elderly, health and education. These are the issues which if handled smartly can be easily managed because most of them are attainable with smart approach.
AT: What are things that make you angry about architecture?
FK: Lack of professionalism and superfluous architecture is what upsets me the most. We need to be good architects and to me a good architect needs to be conscious about the values of the society he is serving. He or she also needs to understand the adverse effect a society may face due to some of his or her actions. Corruption is the key factor and cause of decay in our society. Unprofessional practices have made the architecture of our city, as well as country, most unsatisfactory and this is what upsets me a lot. I have seen my fellow professionals compromising a lot with low fee quotation, compromising on standards and encroaching upon the work of others etc. Our company itself has suffered a lot. On many occasions when we had a dispute with client on various issues and stopped work on basis of ethics, we saw our fellow professionals stepping in to provide support to the same client and snatch the work. It is highly unprofessional and these also include some so called big names of our profession. However at this point it will be unfair if I don’t mention that we also have some fellow professionals who have always stood up displaying high ethical values.
I wish to inform all my fellow colleagues that through our actions we can play a very important role in improving our society, rather we can act as reformers of the communities we are serving.
Just by using expensive building material, artificial make-up or facial treatments, raising cost of construction doesn’t make you a successful architect. It is not intelligent architecture rather I call it artificial architecture or valueless architecture.
AT: What is your design philosophy and methodology?
FK: Design in different ways create impact on our lives.
My design philosophy is very simple and is always responsive to the needs of the society or community involved. I believe in design which is based on the architectural basics and which influences a change in the quality of life of its user. Good design is more than just good aesthetics. Functionality is prime and subsequently it has to be wrapped with aesthetics. In modern times, you will find most pleasing designs in terms of aesthetics but in terms of functionality many of them are failures. Such designs may please the passerby while in reality the users are suffering due to lack of genuine functionality. In actual we are compromising with the quality of space for its user. I love to see an architecture which is governed by values.
I like the quote from Norman Foster that “Architecture is an expression of values “.
I believe in simplicity and elegance while my methodology will always reflect active participation of its user. I am always interacting with end users and drive my design through their participation and interests.
AT: What kind of projects do you enjoy more? And what projects do you currently have on the boards?
FK: I enjoy projects which can bring qualitative change in the life of its user. These include urban design related projects which are for the benefit of masses, developing projects of public interest, working for projects which can bring positive environmental impact and now focusing more towards the millennium development goal.
My most enjoyable work relates to the hundreds of shelters for the underprivileged families. Since I was involved in the whole process, I literally experienced the agony of these families and then as they moved into their homes saw the same agony get converted into joy and happiness. For me such are most satisfying as well as precious moments of life.
Similarly there are many grass root level schools in Jalalabad, Afghanistan, Muzaffarabad, Azad Kashmir and other places along with the hospital in Dalbandin which I enjoyed because they were all designed for the use of common people and influenced positively in the life of many.
There are many projects related to urban design and planning in which I am currently involved or responsible but the best out of the list is the Revival of Old Town Saddar Karachi. This project has been initiated by the Governor of Sindh Dr. Ishrat ul Ebad Khan and it’s going to be a valuable gift for Karachi. Although there have been many challenges but as an Architect we are groomed to encounter these challenges and convert them into opportunities of doing something good for the public. We are totally committed for the same. This project has been initiated with the mission to revive the glory of Saddar and convert this thoroughfare into a destination place for all. The vision is to revive the old glory of Saddar. We plan to make it a quality recreation and entertainment zone for all type of users. It will be backed by socio-cultural interaction which will make it a strong activity zone.
There still remain many historic buildings which can be saved and preserved through appropriate action. We have developed a comprehensive program for preservation as well as restoration of these buildings. Many of these buildings will be adapted for reuse. Empress Market, EduljeeDinshaw Dispensary and many other classic buildings in Saddar area will hopefully be restored and presented for public usage.
The Sanghar Housing Project at Gwadar is another project which is located at one of the most fascinating locations on earth and, once built, it will be a project most livable due to its terrific surroundings and terrains. A housing project with tremendous potential for recreation and tourism has gained multifaceted importance at all levels. This is the project in which we have also designed a flawless system of management; meaning strict monitoring with least compromises and adding tremendous value to it. A project where we’ll have to remain seriously conscious about many environmental issues and if succeeded it will be a unique urban design example.
AT: You are also working for some socially responsive architecture in Thatta, please tell us about the background of this project?
FK: During year 2010 and 2011, Pakistan faced severe floods all over the country. Being a member of Rotary International Pakistan region, I volunteered myself to work for Relief Rehabilitation and Rebuild for the affected families.
After going through initial stages of Relief and Rehabilitation for many of these floodaffected families we decided to get into Rebuild stage which was quite a challenge but at the same time an opportunity which we availed and succeeded.
The whole process was efficiently coordinated. Site selected is easily accessible and located on the main highway. Proper criteria were evolved for selection of beneficiaries and emphasis was made on their involvement during construction. While ýdeveloping the design brief and criteria; focus was to have facilities which can be easily adapted and can also provide real comfort. Here we had users who had no idea what they are going to get and for them definition of a home was just a 8X8 ft squatter or a hut. We included in our brief a room, veranda, kitchen, wash area, toilets and reasonable size of open area to be used as court yard and also as kitchen garden or for any other activity. Extensive use of indigenous material was given proper consideration. Although most indigenous techniques and materials have vanished or replaced but yet it was discreetly available and thus was reached ensuring its appropriate usage.
Overall the concept represents Spatial Design providing and linking external open spaces with internal spaces and which are inter dependable as well as easily adaptable.
An integrated master plan was developed to incorporate numerous aspects such as affordable design with flexibility to expand, affordable as well as participatory construction process for beneficiaries, defined walkways,water and sanitation facilities, incorporating health and education, supporting the beneficiaries with economic & community development programs and providing sports & recreation facilities specially for children. Combined together, it ideally makes this village a Sustainable Low Cost Regeneration of Social Housing for a displaced Community.
Climatic and Environmental Change was also given due consideration in the master plan as well as in the shelters which are placed facing the south western winds; an orientation which is traditionally practiced in the area. In order to have an efficient pumping system for water from the source we decided to introduce alternate energy through solar which is not just sustainable but also provided a positive environmental impact to the village.
The overall approach also reflects the concept of participatory planning to regenerate and revitalize the community . This project was driven by the beneficiaries and they have developed a sense of ownership.
The spin-off benefits apart from provision of these shelters also include skill development during construction of these shelters, close knitting amongst the community, children going to school, women thinking about contributing through their talents, sense of participation, pride of owning a home etc.
This Rotary Jo Goth project has become a life changer for these 160 families and their generations to come.
AT: How willing are you to compromise design ideas to fit price points and clients dictation?
FK: Suggestions for improvement are always welcome but dictation resulting in compromise is never acceptable. Often we have walked out of projects or recorded our serious concerns to clients for their unnecessary intervention leading to compromises. I feel compromises hampering the design or project is also corruption and we should have the courage to say “No” to anything that is bad or that leads to corruption. Values and integrity are important to me in life, both as a professional and as a human being.
AT: How would you describe your personal style of design?
FK: I believe in simplicity and elegance combined with culture and values. My personal style begins with incorporating space with people and extends toward Spatial Design whereby connectivity is important between spaces. I try to connect spaces with flow of people and visual contacts.
AT: What future goals do you have in mind?
FK: To remain focused in my approach towards socially responsive architecture and share my experience guiding the new generation towards a better Pakistan.
AT: Is there a particular project/design that you are most proud of?
FK: To me, one of my most satisfying designs have been the one I did for the poorest amongst the poor. It includes the hundreds of shelters I designed, and also managed execution for the underprivileged families in Kech (turbat) area and the Rotary Jo Goth in Thatta. I have seen agony of hundreds of families getting converted into joy as well as happiness and these are proud moments for me. All such exercises satisfy me of my efforts both as an architect as well as a human being.
AT: Is design necessary to be related to culture and place?
FK: Relationship is important but in terms of connectivity only so as linking us with the past. Otherwise, diversity is more important for people as they want to witness change and experience growth.
AT: Do you think architecture is profession for the elite in our country and we are not fulfilling a bigger social requirement?
FK: Absolutely YES! This is the saddest part of our profession that for shorter gains we have ignored the larger interests. We serve elites, get dictation from them, satisfy their egos and ignore the society around. We feel that by using extravagant designs we can earn more and live better in this world. But the fact is that in order to do same we don’t need to qualify as a professional architect. We can be an artist or a designer or a contractor! Anything but an architect as we are simply ignoring our greater, deeper and more sensitive responsibility for the society as well as for people. It is time to show more commitment towards bigger social responsibilities through our most valued profession.
AT: How do you see the role of IAP and PCATP in safeguarding the interest of architects and what objectives should it set forth for itself?
FK: The role of IAP and PCATP is nothing beyond a social club that too restricted to our drawing rooms or hotel lobbies. In my initial years of profession, I was quite active in the affairs of both IAP as well as PCATP but then I realized that I am unable to contribute much in terms of either professional development and growth of our profession or for for the society at large. Thus, I decided to withdraw from my commitment reserved for these professional institutions and give more time to my Rotary Club; an organization which connects you deeply with the people as well as communities around you and around the world. Although it has personally given me more satisfaction and made me become more responsive to the social needs of our society, I feel guilty of not contributing my bit for the growth and development of our two professional institutions. Both of them have tremendous potential to do good for safeguarding the interest of our fellow and specially young professionals along with addressing the issues related general public.
I also wish to offer my compliments to all those who are giving time and serving both IAP and PCATP also making it at least breathe in accordance to their personal capacities but we need to do much more.
With regard to the objectives we need to set forth, I think we must have a value added approach. We need to show all that both IAP and PCATP are here to give value to others. We have well defined objectives and maybe we can re-address them as per need of the day and that of our future. Some of the areas we need to focus may include; architectural and planning education in the existing colleges / schools especially in terms of redesigning syllabus and supporting them for their technical needs, guiding the architecture and planning students for their future endeavors, creating a pool for internship of students, helping them in their early days after graduation, plan more extensive programs in areas such as continuing education for our fellow professionals at all levels, organizing more structured and participation oriented programs as well as activities such as seminars, conventions, workshops etc, also creating awareness and participation in social sector development through appropriate interventions and advocacy, supporting our fellow professionals in terms of their socio professional needs, making the new generation aware of the importance of IAP and PCATP by involving them and bringing change in these institutions as per their need and desires.
AT: How do you feel about the standard of architectural education in Pakistan?
FK: It is very easy to say that it’s not good or needs improvement and more easy to give advices and enforcing our views on others. The fact is that I am no expert for same. However, as an architect and a social reformer I have some views with regard to standard of education at large in Pakistan and architectural education is no exception to it. We need to bring drastic changes in our overall education system in Pakistan and for institutions managed at government as well as non governmental levels. I am of firm opinion that private institutions are no replacement to public sector institutions. This very factor that private institutions are trying to take control of public sector responsibilities itself is a disaster in our system. Now let me share something out of history and which will give us a food for thought as how impractical we are with regard to most sensitive issues including architectural profession and its related education.
A few decades ago an idea was presented to establish Indus Valley School of Art and Architecture and I was one of those who opposed it. My reason for opposition was very simple: an effort was being made to establish an institution for the elite and although there was nothing wrong with it but the institution was managed by leading professionals, who were also visiting faculty at the only other existing institution in this city, and this was a problem. Our concerns proved right as, eventually, we had to withdraw many of these leading architects as they were very important visitingtime faculty members and a support to full-time faculty at the only existing institute of those days in Karachi. Not only did it resulted in the immediate downfall of this established institutionbut also proved that the IVS philosophy of management, which was established on the basis of part timers, failed miserably. IVS has indeed become an expensive and elitist institution which, in spite of all sorts of support, is still struggling and this could be put down to not only a missing ideology and lack of dedication but also ainsufficient full-time facultyand leadership. In order to have a successful educational institution we need to have a system at place. A system dependent on individuals cannot work but an individual dependent on a system can certainly succeed.
Although, under all such pressures we saw emergence of a few more institutions in Karachi and in spite of limitations they are far better additions. In Sindh, I would rate architecture and planning faculties at NED and Mehran University as two finest institutions as of today but then we have to simultaneously think of bringing drastic change in the syllabus as well as approach; making it more practical and useful.
Artificial intelligence is what governs us today and will take more leaps in years to come. The problem is not in its simple use rather it is in merging the new technologies into the natural process of creativity and design approach/methodology to obtain appropriate architectural design and building technology solutions. At present, we are using artificial intelligence only as a tool for transferring the design data from handmade schematics into technology based Auto CAD or 3D solutions. It is actually restricting the skills of our new generation and I am afraid many of them will end up in becoming good Auto CAD technicians or Auto CAD architects rather than design architects which is alarming indeed. There are some most talented architects I have come across but they have limitations. We somehow need to groom them for use of Artificial Intelligence in designing process. Given the fact that computer science and artificial intelligence in particular, is an evolving domain for problem solving techniques, it is believed that it could be a comprehensive tool for achieving that goal. Thus, it is important to get more involved in the context of DESIGN AUTOMATION establishing a thinking process to approach related problem and adapt a generic design methodology using intelligent computers that may eventually help generate a new approach to architectural design, and assist in the development of new building technologies. We may have to beef up our academic institutions to adapt latest technologies and in doing so we have to look for partners, sponsors and funding organization for supporting these institutions; for which IAP and PCATP be playing its due role.
AT: We have seen you are involved with various activities in social sector and especially for welfare of humanity while also running your own practice; how do you manage time for these activities?
FK: We have 24 hours during the day and apart from 4 to 5 hours sleep you have ample time to take care of all your plans. Basically it is time management and some experience of multi tasking which can make things easier.
As architects we are groomed to be socially responsive and as a human being we are committed for the betterment of life for our fellow human beings. Life is too short and we have to make the best use of time available to us. I think all of us have a desire to do well to this world and many of us are waiting for an appropriate time to come. My message to them is, “If you plan to do good to this world then do it today as tomorrow may not be yours.”
Also with the challenges we are facing in the entire world especially with regard to Millennium Development Goals it is important for us the Architects or Planners to expand our horizon and be more responsive. We need to do appropriate thinking about same and contribute toward its success.
AT: What is Rotary and what are the social sector areas in which you are involved?
FK: Rotary is world’s oldest and leading humanitarian Service organization and during my 29 years of association it has made me learn about social entrepreneurship. Rotary helped me to contribute towards society’s most pressing social problems. It provides me tremendous opportunity to work in social sector development on purely volunteer basis. Rotary’s biggest program has been eradication of Polio and then we have other programs like; Peace and Conflict Resolution, health, education, economic development, shelter, disaster management, water, sanitation etc. I am lucky to have been consistently involved in all these program and am trying to provide solutions based on professional approach. Today, we have many challenges in our country and we also have tremendous opportunities around us either through Rotary or another organization but we have limited individuals who can volunteer themselves. I will urge all my fellow professionals to become social entrepreneurs as they have ideas and they are creative. They just need to connect resources available around them to make someone’s life better. Health and education are two areas where we need to do a lot.
AT: What advice would you like to give to students and young architects entering the field of architecture and planning?
FK: To the students and to the young architects as well as Planners, my message is; ‘Work hard because it is always the hard work that makes you strong; be honest because it will always give you long term success and believe in doing good to others as it will add value to yourself and to the people as well as communities around you.
Judge your strengths and bring it into action. Get into architectural entrepreneurship, join hands with fellow professionals and build partnership. Have a vision and be a thorough professional; success will be after you!
Also, start returning your bit to the society you belongs to!’ “The worth of our life is not in how much bank balance we have or leave behind but it is in how much qualitative change we bring in the life of our fellow human beings”.