Renowned Pakistani architect Yasmeen Lari, has been honored with the top cultural award of Asia known as the Fukuoka Prize in Japan. The award recognises individuals who have carried out outstanding work in preserving or creating Asian culture globally.
Yasmeen Lari is the third Pakistani recipient of the Fukuoka Prize with qawwali maestro Nusrat Fateh Ali Khan and social scientist Dr Uxi Mufti as the previous winners. Established in 1990, the prize was founded by Fukuoka City of Japan. The awards are presented every year to honour the outstanding work of organisations, groups or individuals for the promotion and preservation of diverse cultures of Asia. The award aims to increase awareness of Asian cultures and to institute a broad framework for exchange and mutual learning among the peoples of Asia.
“I feel honoured to receive this award. It is indeed recognition for the good things happening in Pakistan,” said Yasmeen Lari.
She said she was nominated by the Fukuoka Prize committee, which looked into her work in architecture, community development and its preservation for a specific length of time. “The cultural aspect of this country is very important to us. I’m grateful of Pakistan for giving me the opportunity to do things,” Yasmeen said.
Citation on the Fukuoka Prize states that Yasmeen has not only created many contemporary buildings but has also played a decisive role in the preservation and conservation of historical buildings, through the Heritage Foundation of Pakistan, which she herself founded.
Ar. Yasmeen Lari’s acceptance speech after being declared Fukuoka Prize Laureate 2016 at the Symphony House, Fukuoka, in the presence of the Imperial Family and invited audience filling the symphony hall
I am deeply honoured to receive the great Fukuoka Prize for Culture – as we know it is culture that endows us with our identity, fosters social cohesion and underpins sustainable development.
I am grateful for the recognition of Pakistan’s ancient and diverse heritage-Bronze Age Moen-jo-daro and Mehergarh, also the awesome cradle of Buddhism that is our shared heritage with Japan at Sharda, Taxila and Takht-i-Bahi, the ornate Hindu Shahi and Sikh temples, the matchless funerary clusters of pre-Mughal Makli,the Central Asian legacy of Timurid Mughals – lofty palaces and paradise gardens of Lahore Fort and Shalamar, the magnificent medieval walled cities such as Lahore, Thatta and Peshawar, and the urban inheritance with eclectic Imperial overtones of the British.
Also the spectacular vernacular traditions that are immortalized by women folk as they weave magical patterns in their crafts, taught to them by their mothers and their mothers before them -which all I believe we must safeguards if family silver to perpetuate a culture of tolerance and peace for our future generations.
In a world that is filled with conflict and catastrophes, today my life is dedicated to serve humanity – in the footsteps of the great humanist Sattar Edhi, the great Nobel Laureates Malala Yousuf Zai and Dr Abdus Salam, fashioning our lives in the vision of the nation’s Founder Mohammad Ali Jinnah.
I believe the honour bestowed upon me also underscores the grave threat to the planet due to global warming, and to both our countries suffering from recurring disasters. It is my fervent hope that together we should spread the knowledge for disaster preparedness, excelled in by Japan, to countries such as Pakistan, and the zero carbon footprint lead, that Pakistan has taken, to be spread around the world.
I am deeply grateful to the Fukuoka Prize Committee for this singular honour, to my country for the opportunity to work with marginalized communities in the pursuit of social and ecological justice through creation of sustainable models, and to my parents Nabi un Nisa Begum and Zafar ul Ahsan, my husband Suhail, and children Raeena, Mihail and Humayun, and my grandson Shay for their lifelong support. My ardent salute is to the thousands of downtrodden women of Pakistan who, at my call, have displayed extra ordinary creativity and courage to rise above adversity. I thank you.