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A Contemporary Architectural Quest and Synthesis:

Kamil Khan Mumtaz in Pakistan

Zarminae Ansari
Bachelor of Architecture,
National College of Arts,
Lahore, Pakistan, 1994.
Submitted to the
Department of Architecture in partial fulfillment
the requirements for the degree of
Master of Science in Architecture Studies
at the
June 1997
Zarminae Ansari, 1997. All Rights Reserved.
The author hereby grants to MIT permission to reproduce and distribute publicly
paper and electronic copies of this thesis document in whole or in part.
A uthor ...... ................................................................................. . .
Department of Architecture
May 9, 1997
Certified by.
Attilio Petruccioli
Aga Khan Professor of Design for Islamic Culture
Thesis Supervisor
A ccep ted b y ...........................................................................................
Roy Strickland
Chairman, Departmental Committee on Graduate Students
Department of Architecture
JUN 2 0 1997
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Ali Asani, (John L. Loeb Associe e Professor of the Humanities, Harvard Univer-
sity Faculty of Arts and Sciences).
Sibel Bozdogan, (Associate Professor of Architecture, MIT).
Hasan-ud-din Khan, (Visiting Associate Professor, AKPIA, MIT).
For making this thesis possible, indeed, for their part in my architectural journey, for mak-
ing it possible for me to reach MIT, I would like to thank the following people:
- Mr. A. A. Ansari, Deputy Director General, Archaeological Survey of India: my Opa,
who I regretfully never met, but is always an inspiration;
- My parents, Anjum and Rana Naeem, and my family; specially my mother due to
whose sacrifices toward a daughter's education, I am here;
- Mr. Sikander Ghulam Ali, who helped me begin the journey to Lester B. Pearson Col-
lege of the Pacific, Canada, and beyond;
- My professors and friends at the National College of Arts, Lahore, Pakistan; specially
Taimoor D.A. Mumtaz for his invaluable help.
- My friends at MIT, Shehla Imran, Pratap Talwar, and specially Rajive Chaudhry.
- Mr. William O' Reilly, at the Aga Khan Award Geneva office.
- I would like to thank my professors at MIT and Harvard specially Nasser Rabat, Sibel
Bozdogan and Ali Asani whose courses were eye openers, and Hasan-ud-din Khan for
his insightful comments.
Finally it is my privilege to thank the two people without whom this thesis really would not
have been possible: Kamil Khan Mumtaz, for his patience and graciously taking time out
to help me; and Attilio Petruccioli: I will always be grateful for his good humor, helpful
enthusiasm, and "inventiveness".
A Contemporary Architectural Quest and Synthesis:
Kamil Khan Mumtaz in Pakistan
Zarminae Ansari
Submitted to the Department of Architecture on May 9, 1997, in partial
fulfillment of the requirements for the degree of
Master of Science in Architecture Studies
This thesis looks at an important Pakistani architect's work and philosophy as a possible direction or
approach for contemporary architecture in Pakistan. Although there are more prolific builders in Pakistan,
Kamil Khan Mumtaz (KKM) of Lahore, is one of the most important and influential figures in architectural
education and the architectural discourse in Pakistan. He has tried to synthesize both pragmatic and philo-
sophical aspects of architecture.
Kamil Khan Mumtaz was trained in the Modern Movement at Architectural Association, London. His initial
exposure to indigenous Architecture made him question the validity of his training. He started to search for
a more appropriate architectural idiom for Pakistan. Throughout his career, he has been a pioneer in the
movement for conservation of architectural heritage and raising standards of architectural design in Paki-
stan through different organizations he has founded and is member of.
This thesis looks at three stages of evolution in the architects background, discourse and work; relating it
to its cultural milieu.
The first phase describes the state of architecture in Pakistan when he returns from the Architectural Asso-
ciation, London, and the events leading up to the situation. The background is a period of nation building
following Independence and Partition and a lack of adequate architectural education in Pakistan. His early
buildings reflect his Modernist training and social concerns.
The second phase looks at his growing concerns with appropriate technology, and interest in indigenous
building techniques and crafts. This is the period of Islamic nationalism and the Islamization program dur-
ing the military regime of General Zia.
The last phase, is the recent and contemporary situation, where global culture meets the deep rooted rem-
nants of fundamentalism fanned by Zia's regime. At this time his architecture is an attempt at synthesis of
modern technology and local craft with his own interest in spiritual aspects of architecture.KKM's most rep-
resentative work in each of these phases will be discussed with reference to his architectural agenda at the
Other issues raised, while assessing the work of Kamil Khan Mumtaz, are issues of regionalism relating to
the evolution of his architecture. If critical regionalism is considered the preferred choice, or alternative, of
architectural approach specially in Islamic and/ or developing countries, how well does KKM's work fit into
that context? Finally, it explores his importance as an architect, educator and intellectual in terms of his
influence on contemporary architecture in Pakistan.
Thesis Supervisor: Attilio Petruccioli
Title: Aga Khan Professor of Design for Islamic Culture
Introducing contemporary architecture in Pakistan
Methodology, Data Sources and Purpose
Nationalism And Identity
Architecture education in Pakistan
National College of Arts
Architects background-----------
2.1- Modernist/ social concerns; (Systems buildings)
2.2- Regional Approach -----------
2.3- Anjuman Mimaran --------------
2.6-The Aga Khan Awards -------------
2.4- The Role of Crafts in Spiritual Context
3.1- Search for appropriate technology
- Kot Karamat Village -- --
- Architects Residence
3.2- Exploration of traditional crafts
- Sonu Rehman's Residence
- Residences in Lahore
3.3 - Synthesis of technology and craft
- Dar-ul-Hikmat
- Chandbagh School
4.1- Contemporary Synthesis; Spiritual approach
4.2 - His Influence
4.3 - Economic
4.4 - Discourse
1.1 Introducing Contemporary Architecture In Pakistan
Fifty years after Independence, Pakistan is still grappling with the nature of its existencel
as secular or religious, and therefore its identity. There is, not surprisingly, no agreement
concerning the source of this identity, and its validation. Issues surrounding this pervade
most civil life, and this is equally true of architecture.
In October 1993, at the end of a seminar on Contemporary Architecture in Pakistan
, an
architecture student expressed the general feeling among the student delegation
present, and said that at the end of the day's proceedings, she felt confused, and like the
child of disputing parents- "I don't know where to turn or which movement to adopt....".3
The statement was telling of another fact: the general tendency "to adopt" a movement,
or turn to ready-made solutions of imposed principles. Three years later, architect Kamil
Khan Mumtaz in reply to what constitutes a "Pakistani" identity in architecture, called it a
"manifest confusion". 4
With limited and selective exposure to international architectural discourse, no critical
architectural journal evaluating their work, most contemporary architects in Pakistan
have evolved a style of architecture that KKM refers to as "irresponsible".
1."What do Pakistanis really want?" Survey in Herald Magazine, Karachi, January 1997.
2. The seminar was organized by Kamil Khan Mumtaz and volunteers for the Anjuman Mimaran, a society
builders and architects of which he is a founder member.
3. Ansari, Z.; "Barefoot, Traditional, Modern or Populist?" report on seminar proceedings in, The Frontier
Post, October 22, 1993.
4. KKM Interview, January 1996.
5. Ibid.
This is a matter of greater significance than just exasperation and/ or bewilderment of an
intellectual elite at the commercial and popular architecture'. Pakistan faces the typical
problems of a developing nation. On the urban and architectural level, these are densifi-
cation due to the ever increasing economic pull of the urban centers and a population
explosion leading to infrastructure deficiency and socio-political crises. These develop-
ment issues are juxtaposed against a desire to assert a political and cultural identity.
Architectural identity on a national and regional level, and housing and sustainable archi-
tecture from the global and environmental perspective have been on the State's agenda,
as reiterated not only in political speeches but international architectural seminars and
conferences. These issues are NOT mutually exclusive, yet in most cases, they are
approached in this manner, specially in large scale government projects.
Contemporary building in Pakistan is carried out by two kinds of bodies. One is the popu-
lar, playing out the aspirations of the masses. The second, a Janus-headed intellectual
body of a Western-educated elite, which rejects popular expression. Janus-headed,
because of the directions they face for legitimate inspiration. One looks toward the West
for inspiration and education. At the same time, a diverse group of intellectual elite are
prescribing a return to the roots.
However they are neither particularly in agreement as to what those roots are exactly, nor
1. Such as the exuberance of fantastic urban vernacular architecture of marriage halls along streets in urban
2. Thus public buildings that attempt to assert a sense of pride and national identity, sometimes do so in a
way that is good for the nation in terms of excessive financial cost. or use of limited energy resources.
the process by which they are to be exposed. Though they seem to be in agreement for
the rejection of post-colonial architecture such as that of the Modern Movement and
images of it, appropriated by a young Nation to depict "progress" symbolized by the new
capital, Islamabad. Some rely on transplanting a pastiche of exact images on elevations,
from an arbitrarily chosen period in architectural history, or a romanticized rural vernacu-
lar. A handful; more aware of theoretical discourse in architecture, are trying to achieve
what may be called a kind of "critical regionalism" after attempting to study typologies,
spaces of traditional buildings, etc. Here again it is debatable as to what constitutes "tra-
ditional". Architect Kamil Khan Mumtaz belongs to this group of intellectual elite.
There are more prolific builders in Pakistan, however, I have chosen architect Kamil Khan
Mumtaz in Lahore, who is nevertheless one of the most important and influential figures
in architectural education and the architectural discourse in Pakistan and who has tried
to synthesize both pragmatic and philosophical aspects of architecture. He has thought
and written a great deal about architecture in general and his own evolution as an archi-
tect, in particular.
Due to the lack of local architectural journals as well as other factors
, very limited infor-
mation is available on architects in Pakistan. I hope this thesis will supplement and add to
the information and will be a useful reference to those interested in the development of
architectural discourse in the non-Western world, and specifically within the Indian sub-
1. An automatic association with architectural discourse in India should be restrained, as the situation is
very different demographically: in terms of literacy rates, the number of architectural schools and number
of architects practising in the two countries, and the existence of regular architectural journals mono-
graphs, and texts available, which is not the case in Pakistan. Also of significance is the large body of
middle class in India, who are patrons and clients, as compared to the lower ratio in Pakistan.
continent region. I will attempt to trace the trajectory of the discourse by mapping the
work and writings of Kamil Khan Mumtaz through an analysis of it, in context of Paki-
stan's post-Partition cultural dilemma and self-invention.
Important milestones in his career are closely linked with the socio-political milieu at the
time. Which is why his work is representative of the issues surrounding architecture and
the post-colonial identity, in Pakistan.
1. He was founder member of the Lahore Conservation Society; founder president of Anjuman Mimaran a group of
architects and builders, which aims to establish an almost revolutionary new Building Arts School.
- Visiting Critic at Aga Khan Program for Islamic Architecture at Harvard and MIT 1988.
- Member Scientific Committee for "Barcelona' 96", International Union of Architects.
- Member Board of Governors, Authority for Preservation of Mohenjo-Daro.
- Member Board of Governors, Mehran University of Engineering & Technology, Jamshoro, Sindh.
- Member Board of Governors, Lok Virsa and Member Board of Governors, Pakistan National Fund for Cultural
- Member Steering Committee for AKAA (1981-1984).
- Professor and Head of the Department of Architecture at National College of Arts, Lahore. (1966-1980)
1.2 Methodology, Data Sources and Purpose
This study will limit itself to one architect through whose work many questions within the
cultural and architectural discourse are raised, to see if they are answered. It will look
specifically at KKM's work with reference to his writings, and the cultural milieu.
The first part will look at the historical and cultural context of his work, and the back-
ground of architectural education in Pakistan, in which he played an important role. In the
second, the stages of his architectural philosophy have been divided into three parts
coinciding with the phases in the socio-political history of Pakistan: the early years after
Independence: the era of Islamization under the dictatorship of General Zia ul Haq: and
the era of regionalism, global communication and the Aga Khan Award (AKAA). In each
of these phases, up to two buildings have been discussed with reference to KKM's archi-
tectural agenda at the time. The third part of the analysis will look at his influence on con-
temporary architects. The last part of the study will assess the present state of KKM's
quest and its relevance, if any, to the architectural discourse in Pakistan.
Data sources include KKM's writings: articles, papers and his book Architecture in Paki-
stan; personal and published interviews with the architect; available information and
graphic material on his projects. Background readings include those on nationalism and
post-colonial architectural identity; Islam in South Asia; regional architectural discourse
in relevant books and articles, and the AKAA publications.
1.3: Nationalism and Identity
In "Nations and Nationalism Since 1780", Eric Hobsbawm states that the word 'nation' in
its modern sense is a product of the eighteenth century.
From the now famous lecture
"What Is A Nation?", by Ernest Renan,
the question has been asked, answers
attempted, and, says Hobsbawm: "Stalin's definition is probably the best known among
these, but by no means the only one."
Thus: "A Nation is a historically evolved, stable
community of language, territory, economic life and psychological makeup manifested in
a community of culture." (Joseph Stalin, "Marxism and the National and Colonial Ques-
tion, pg. 8. Written originally in 1912)4.
After World War 1, as the map of Europe was being redrawn, the academic study of
nationalism was established.
Hobsbawm argues that nationalism comes before
Similarly Ge|lner writes: "Nations as a natural, God given way of classifying
men, as an inherent.., political destiny, are a myth; nationalism which sometimes takes
pre- existing cultures and turns them into nations, sometimes invents them, and often
obliterates pre-existing cultures: that is a reality"
1. Pg. 3, E.J. Hobsbawm; Nations and Nationalism Since 1780: Program, Myth and Reality, Cambridge
University Press, 1990.
2. Ernest Renan; "What is a Nation?", 1882. Reprinted in Homi Bhabha ed. Nation and Narration, New
York, 1990, Pp. 8-22.
3. Pg. 5, Hobsbawm; Nations and Nationalism Since 1780: Programme, Myth and Reality Cambridge Uni-
versity Press, 1990.
4. Ibid.
5. Pg. 3, Ibid. Carleton B. Hayes and Hans Kohn were the "twin founding fathers of the academic study of
6. Pg. 10, Ibid.
7. Pp. 48-49, Ernest Gellner, "What is a Nation?", in Nations and Nationalism: Oxford: Basil Blackwell,
However, Unlike Gellner's view of the Nation "constructed essentially from above",' Hob-
sbawm suggests a dual analysis that includes "the view from below':
the perception and
view of the nation as seen by the masses.
Hobsbawm proposes three aspects of "the view from below" which need study: the dis-
parities between the official ideology of the state, and the genuine aspirations and con-
cerns of its citizens; the multiplicity of identifications, and the changeable nature of
national identification.
The events leading up to the creation of Pakistan fall broadly into the three phases that
Hobsbawm divides the history of National Movements into.
These are: a beginning in a
non political cultural or literary movement; then the seed of "the national idea" which pio-
neers a political campaign; and finally: mass support.
Thus, a growing self-awareness of their culture, religion and education created from
"above", by reformists and educators like Sir Sayyed Ahmed Khan, Mohammad lqbal and
others, led Muslims in colonized India to finally rally in support of the national idea of Par-
tition and eventually the creation of Pakistan.
1. Pg. 10, E.J. Hobsbawm; Nations and Nationalism Since 1780: Programme, Myth and Reality, Cambridge
University Press, 1990.
2. Pg. 11, Ibid.
3. Pg. 12, Ibid.
4. On 14th August, 1947, Muslim majority areas became part of Pakistan and Hindu majority areas part of
India. This led to the creation of East and West Pakistan, separated........ of Indian territory. Administra-
tive and political power lay in West Pakistan, although East Pakistani Bengalis were the demographic
majority. The bone of contention between India and Pakistan has been the issue of Kashmir. This was a
Muslim majority area, whose Hindu ruler conceded to India. Since then, both countries have claimed the
area as part of their National territory. Political tensions and strained foreign relations exist in the area
which has already seen two wars.
Gellner writes: "If the nationalism prospers it eliminates the alien high culture, but it does
not then replace it by the old local low culture; it revives, or invents, a local high (literate,
culture of its own".1
In the case of Pakistan, that high literate culture was that of the Imperial Mughal Court.
Both Gellner
and Hobsbawm
have discussed how an invented common culture is offi-
cially prescribed: "The basic deception and self-deception practised by nationalism is
this: nationalism is, essentially, the general imposition of a high culture on society, where
previously low cultures had taken up the lives of the majority"
Thus, Pakistan's State ideology of imposing a National language- Urdu, the language of
high culture in later Mughal court, had drastic and far-reaching implications. During the
struggle for independence, bengalis rallied under the banner of Islam; but culturally and
linguistically they had strong local traditions. The linguistic protests in the then East Paki-
stan led to a repetition of the three phases of national movements discussed earlier. The
political and cultural differences of East and West Pakistan eventually led to a bloody civil
war and the creation of the separate state of Bangladesh.
This political struggle and official ideology manifests itself in state architecture, used by
the leaders of the nation to define and establish a national identity. At the same time, this
"quest for a national identity is in reality a product of the search for subnational, personal
1. Pg. 57, Ernest Gellner, "What is a Nation?", in Nations and Nationalism: Oxford: Basil Blackwell, 1983.
2. Ibid. "nationalisms has its own amnesias and selections"
3. "Introduction: Inventing Traditions", E. Hobsbawm and T. Ranger eds., The Invention of Tradition, Cam-
bridge University Press, Canto, 1992 (1983).
4. Pg. 57, Ernest Gellner, "What is a Nation?", in Nations and Nationalism: Oxford: Basil Blackwell, 1983.
and supranational identity'.
Underlying the search for national identity, are subnational group alliances and the
choices of the government leaders. Thus: "The rhetoric may be about unity, but the sym-
bols chosen to represent it are products of an elite with its own set of group prefer-
ences".2 There is a "tendency of the national leadership to want to assume architectural
ties to some period of the past. Architecture and urban design may be used as an icono-
graphical bridge between preferred epochs".
In the case of Islamabad's Capitol Com-
plex, this favored past was that of the Mughal.
The quest for personal vs. national identity plays itself out in the personal inclinations and
choices both of the designer and the client, the bureaucracy, and their choice of the
designer. Supranational identity needs to be taken into account when assessing the offi-
cial architecture of the State. Thus, capitol complexes are meant to symbolize the
progress and economic development of the nation and its equal status with the West.
"If anything, post-colonial urban architecture has been far less attuned to the specifics of
place than were its hybrid predeccesors designed under colonial regimes. Concrete-box
parliaments have indistinguishably joined concrete-box offices and housing blocks, creat-
ing an International Style far more ubiquitous than anything out of Hitchcok and
1. Pg. 48, Lawrence J. Vale, Architecture, Power and National Identity Yale University Press, New Haven,
2. Pg. 50, Ibid.
3. Ibid.
4. Pg. 53, Ibid.
1.4 Architecture Education In Pakistan
A comprehensive history of architecture education was presented through papers in a
Forum on Architectural Education held by the Institute of Architects, Pakistan (IAP)
, and
they are a prime source of history of architecture education.
The history of architectural education in the country has been discussed by KKM in his
book, "Architecture in Pakistan", where he says that the colonial experience severed the
ties between the traditional architect and the craftsman, and when the British established
schools for the training of natives in the arts, they created a body of architectural assis-
tants and draftsmen to assist European architects. These architects were very often mili-
tary men with a hobby for architecture, or civil engineers. When professional architects
were imported from Great Britain, they were employed as consultants. And as their ten-
ure ran out, or the colonial experience led them to return back home, the supervision of
architects designs fell into the hands of engineers. However, due to this "historical acci-
an unhealthy precedent was established, where architects are hired on a short
term basis as consultants, without supervising and decision making powers.
The situation continues to date according to Professor Dr. Pervaiz Vandal, speaking at a
Forum for Architectural Education: "The civil engineer, from the SDO to the chief, make
1. The Forum on Architectural Education held by the Institute of Architects, Pakistan (IAP) in conjunction
with the Mehdi Ali Mirza Award ceremony, which recognizes four outstanding architecture students from
the four architecture schools in Pakistan. Excerpts of these papers were presented in Habitat Pakistan
Issue 14, October 1989-March 1990.
2. Pg. 50, Vandal, Professor Dr. Pervaiz; "Learning from Legacy" in Habitat Pakistan Issue 14, October
1989-March 1990.
on the spot changes in design without so much as a nod to the architect. The role of the
architect is thus grossly misunderstood". While the architecture course is a five-year
long one, the engineering course is four years. Yet civil engineers and government
bureaucrats often limit the potential of architects as well as their right and capability to
supervise construction and make decisions beyond the drawing board leading to con-
flicts between the Pakistan Engineering Council and the Pakistan Council of Architects
and Town Planners.
At the same forum, a final year architecture student at the Dawood College of Engineer-
ing Technology (DCET)
expressed the need to formalize the integration of research
projects and ongoing work within the curriculum. She cited the examples of the "Khuda
Ki Basti" and Orangi Pilot Project's Sanitation and Housing Program to equip the student
with the tools to handle the reality of the workplace. She also reiterated the recommen-
dation of the IAP to encourage the "documentation and preservation of our heritage
through students involvement in specific projects".
Thus, the desire to revive the crafts,
the need for hands-on training were sentiments that
led to the idea for a building arts school and the formation of the Anjuman Mimaran, have
obviously been gathering support for some time and are shared by a large body of stu-
1. Ibid.
2. Pg. 57, Khan, Zahida Ali; "Reinforcing Architectural Education's Relevance To Reality", Habitat Paki-
stan Issue 14, October 1989-March 1990.
3. Pg. 53 Professor Kausar Bashir Ahmad, AIAP, Dean Faculty of Architecture and Planning DCET-NED
University, Karachi in "IAP and the Cause of Architectural Education"; Habitat Pakistan Issue 14, Octo-
ber 1989-March 1990.
4. The Indus Valley School of Art and Architecture, a welcome addition to the scene of education, had
Noorjahan Bilgrami as its first principal, and a person interested in the indigenous crafts. She is author of
the book "Sindh Jo Ajrak" documenting the traditional block printing techniques of Sindh.
dents and professionals. At the same time, they caution against nostalgia, pastiche or
romanticism. Hasannudin Khani asks if the "architectural education, say in the Islamic
World, be distinct from what it should be in the Western world? The answer is both yes
and no" He recommends that students be given the tools to work in both familiar and
alien cultures.
1. Pg. 294, Khan, Hasannudin; "Architectural Education: Learning from Developing Countries", in Space
For Freedom.
1.5 National College of Arts (NCA)
NCA began in 1875 as one of the industrial design and art schools established by the
British. It was named the Mayo School of Arts, in honor of the late Earl of Mayo, with
Lockwood Kiplingi as its principal. Various reasons have been given for the establish-
ment of these schools. "Revivalists" who included wealthy Indians and influential British
intellectuals "argued that an uninterrupted living tradition existed in India connecting the
past and the present, and consequently British policy should shun imported form and
ideas and foster this tradition by sustaining the Indian craftsman...",2 They wanted to get
the government to set up schools to 'save' Indian Architecture "with the object of improv-
ing the taste of the native public as regards beauty of form and finish in articles of daily
use among them".
Establishment of schools in Bombay, Madras, Calcutta and Lahore
helped to provide draftsmen, 'native' architectural assistants to European architects.
By the time of Independance schools in Bombay, Madras, Calcutta had incorporated a
formal training course and produced a generation of officially recognized architects. Par-
tition in 1947 interrupted the education of students from Delhi and Bombay when they
migrated to Pakistan where there was no architecture school. Some went away to
England, others joined the Government School of Architecture in Karachi run by the Pub-
1. NCA and its environs were the haunts of his son Rudyard Kipling, and the Zamzama Canon opposite its
gates is still popularly known as Kim's Gun. While the name of the institution changed, it proudly holds
on to its Colonial past.
2. Paper from the Hon'ble Mr. Duncan, M.A. D.Sc., Director of Public Instruction, to chief secretary, Gov-
ernment of Madras, No. 794, January 28, 1895, in "Papers relating to the maintenance of Schools of Art
in India as State Institutions" Calcutta 1893. Quoted in p. 112, Mumtaz, Kamil K., "Architecture in Paki-
3. Ibid.
lic Works Department. It was started by Mehdi Ali Mirza, an eminent professional of the
first generation of architects in the country and senior architect of the Public Works
Department. That was the foundation of the Department of Architecture at Dawood Col-
lege of Engineering and Technology. Mirza's own architectural training, and the curricu-
lum at his school, as well as at the Mayo School of Arts, was based on Western models
with great emphasis on history of Western architecture and little or no exposure to local
and regional architecture and history.
The group of architects who were in Pakistan informally organized themselves into the
Institute of Architects of Pakistan (IAP) in 1957. The IAP's role in architectural education
remained localized in Karachi till 1963 when it registered internationally and by the late
seventies, opened regional branches in other major cities.
It took this first generation of architects a decade, but finally a degree course in Architec-
ture was offered at the Mayo school, (now called National College of Arts or NCA) taught
by foreign instructors who brought with them the functionalist aesthetic of the Bauhaus
and Modernism. However, the economic teething problems of the new nation obviously
affected its academic life. The emphasis was on progress, technology and industrializa-
tion and the, University of Engineering Technology was established. The architecture
department at NCA was turned into a polytechnic after the last of the four graduating
classes was admitted. Eventually due to the efforts of people like KKM and the eminent
1. Today the organization is closely associated with education at all the schools of architecture in Pakistan
and coordinates student competitions. Besides holding qualifying exams for diplomas, it organizes lec-
tures, and workshops open to students. All of this from a basically volunteer organization!
Pakistani artist Shakir Ali, NCA's five year degree program was reinstated. Since then,
while it comes under the jurisdiction of the Federal Government, it is a semiautonomous
body run by a committed board of governors. Thus even when the arts, and specifically
the institiution came under fire during General Zia's regime of "Islamization", the blow to
NCA's curriculum and atmosphere was tempered by the existence of relatively liberal
elements on the Board of Governors.
KKM, as Head of the Architecture Department with other colleagues and graduates of
the school based the model on the experience of the AA, London, though there were
conflicting views regarding the directions of architectural education at the school. The
current discourse on 'tradition vs. modernity' debate had in some ways, already begun,
creating a blurred intellectual rift between those who wanted to follow purely 'progressive'
western modern, and others who were suspicious of it.
In 1977, KKM left NCA, but his relationship with, and influence on the institution remains.
As a frequent juror during theses, as visiting lecturer; or even leading informal discus-
sions or colloquia on students' initiative, He is one of the most important intellectual influ-
ences on students of architecture. He is a member of Board of Governors on cultural
organizations, a Founder Member of the Lahore Conservation Society and Founder
President of the Anjuman Mimaran. Perhaps it is this last credential which continues to
exert his presence, specially intellectually, on contemporary architecture.
1.6 Architect's Background
Kamil Khan Mumtaz was born in 1939, just eight years before Independence (August
1947) and the partition of India and Pakistan. The unraveling of events on the national
scene are almost paralleled by the intellectual development of the architect.
Most leaders, bureaucrats, and intellectuals had headed west and been educated there
during the colonial rule. Political leaders (Gandhi', Nehru
, Jinnah
, Sir Seyyed Ahmed
), thinkers, reformers, educationists (Sir Muhammad Iqbal
). Even after Indepen-
dance, young men (and women on the rare occasion) were sent abroad: England being
the country of choice for Hlgher learning.
KKM's father was a civil engineer. His mother was an artist/ painter, and an independent
lady, who ran her own small business, and was a supporter, though not a member of the
Communist Party of India (CPI). KKM's early education was at the Muree Convent in the
hill station, Muree. He completed his Advanced Levels (A levels) at the Aitchison College,
Lahore and proceeded to the Architectural Association (AA) in London. His younger
1. Gandhi went to Inner Temple, one of the four London law colleges.
2. In 1905, Nehru went to Harrow, a leading English school, where he stayed for two years. Nehru's aca-
demic career was in no way outstanding. From Harrow he went to Trinity College, Cambridge, where he
spent three years earning an honors degree in natural science. On leaving Cambridge he qualified as a
barrister after two years at the Inner Temple, London, where in his own words he passed his examinations
"with neither glory nor ignominy."
3. Jinnah joined Lincoln's Inn, in London one of the legal societies that prepared students for the bar. In
1895, at the age of 19, he was called to the bar.
4. Sir Sayyed Ahmed Khan not only wrote the first treatise on Islamic Architecture in India "A Sarul-Sana-
did" in 1847, but was one of the most important figures in the reading of Islamic history in the sub-conti-
nent. He was responsible for raising the level of education among Indian Muslims and the inclusion of
women in education.
5. In Europe from 1905 to 1908, Iqbal earned his degree in philosophy from the University of Cambridge,
qualified as a barrister in London, and received a doctorate from the University of Munich.
brother, Babar Mumtaz, went to the Middle Eastern Technical University, in Turkey before
continuing on to England.
KKM studied at the Architectural Association in London (1957-1966) where he was
trained in the principles of the modern movement Among his teachers was Otto Koenigs-
berger, who he says influenced him the most, because of the relevance of his ideas to
the situation back home. Koenigsberger produced a number of manuals and studies on
climatic and house design as well as on infrastructure problems in developing countries
and worked in India.
He proceeded to lecture in architecture in Kumasi, Ghana (1964-
1966). Where he worked with Buckminster Fuller and Keith Critchlow who had an endur-
ing influence on his work and experimentation with "the geometry of forms derived from
single basic units".
While not exactly a 'flower-child', KKM often quips about his guitar toting days of a liberal,
socialist idealism. While he, and others like him from developing countries were being
trained in the International Style and getting exposed to this sense of socialism; these
principles could not be superimposed at home disregarding the totally different socio-
economic reality they were faced with there, and the dilemma had to be resolved: "But
the machine aesthetic of the International Style was patently irrelevant to industrially
primitive economies. We believed our role as architect was to evolve an architecture
1. He co-wrote, Manual of Tropical Housing and Building, Longman Group Limited, London 1974, which
is an important reference for climatic design. He also wrote: A Housing Program, for Pakistan with spe-
cial reference to refugee rehabilitation: prepared for the Government of Pakistan; UN Technical Assis-
tance, Administration, 1957.
2. Pg. 125-126, Mumtaz, Kamil Khan; "A Search for Architecture Based on Appropriate Technology", in
Theories and Principles of Design in The Architecture of Islamic Societies, The Aga Khan Program for
Islamic Architecture at Harvard University and the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, 1988.
based technologies that were appropriate to the climates and economies of our own
region".' In these statements, one can hear echoes of the country's leaders who wanted
to incorporate the western image of technology and progress in the new capital, yet an
image that was rooted in the land in some way.
At this time, he participated actively in the "Mazdoor-Kisan" (Laborer-Farmer) Movement.
His leftist political stance may have been influenced by his mothers's support of the Com-
munist Party of India, but was also much within the socialist agenda of the Modern Move-
ment in which he had been trained. His wife, Khawar Mumtaz was equally involved in
issues of social responsibility. After completing her Masters in International Relations
from Karachi University, she taught at Punjab University, and eventually started "Shirkat-
gah", an NGO which works for the empowerment of disadvantaged women. She is a
, an activist, and a member of Women's Action Forum (WAF).
From 1966-1980, as Professor and Head of the Architecture Department, at the National
College of Arts in Lahore, he had his most important influence both direct and indirect on
the architectural education of an entire generation of architects, and on the architecture
of his city Lahore referred to as 'the cultural heart of Pakistan'.
1. Pg. 125, Ibid.
2. Internal conflicts in South Asia, Kumar Rupesinghe and Khawar Mumtaz eds. (Sage, London, 1996).
Changes In United States Foreign Policy And Pakistan's Options: A Perspective, Hamid H. Kizilbash,
Khawar Mumtaz.(South Asian Institute, University of the Punjab, Lahore, 1974. Invisible Workers:
Piecework Labor Amongst Women in Lahore, Farida Shaheed, Khawar Mumtaz, (Women's Division,
Govt. of Pakistan, Islamabad, 1983). Pakistan Foreign Policy and the Legislature, Hamid H. Kizilbash,
Khawar Mumtaz. (South Asian Institute, University of the Punjab, Lahore, 1976). Pakistan's Environ-
ment: A Historical Perspective and Selected Bibliography with Annotations, edited and compiled by
Khawar Mumtaz and Mehjabeen Abidi-Habib, (JRC: IUCN, Karachi, Pakistan, 1989). Seminar Papers
From South Asian Institute, Khawar Mumtaz, Iftikhar Ahmed, eds.,(South Asian Institute, University of
the Punjab, Lahore, 1974).
He followed the usual path of architects: his first major design was his father's house in
Karachi (3.1b Fig. 4) and he had to work from home until he could afford to be indepen-
From Marxist roots, he made an identity shift into the "Islamic Intellectual" with a deep
interest in Islamic Architecture and regionalism, searching for a more valid architectural
idiom for Pakistan. Throughout his career, he has been a pioneer in the movement for
conservation of architectural heritage and raising standards of architectural design in
Pakistan through different organizations he has founded and is member of. He has pre-
sented papers all over the world on indigenous architecture, and appropriate technology,
while reiterating a need to find local expression and an identity based on continuity of tra-
dition. He was Member of the Steering Committee of the Aga Khan Award for Architec-
ture (1981-84). In 1993, he was awarded the Tamgha-i-Imtiaz, The President's Pride of
Performance Medal.
Thus, lately his work is beginning to get recognition, and he is getting more commissions,
as his ideas become palpable to the ordinary clientele as opposed to a small body of
2.1 Modernist/ Social Concerns
The Early Years and the Modern Movement
In his book "Architecture in Pakistan", KKM calls the immediate post colonial years, the
period of the Modern Movement, and divides the time from 1900's to 1960's between the
"first generation", "the younger generation", and "foreign architects", for whom the new
capital, Islamabad is a focal point. He notes, as others have, that the irony of the Modern
Movement that while it rejected all styles, it soon became one of the most easily recog-
nizable symbols and representatives of progress, identified by certain architectural ele-
ments. Interestingly, he comments that the "movement which had recognized no
distinctions between men and nations became a visible manifestation of the best known
cultural domination of the countries of Western Europe and North America over the less
developed countries..." As the newly emerging Nation broke away from colonial rule and
Western influence, it looked all the more to the West for elements that would signify it
had "arrived". Architecture was one of its most visible manifestations. The chosen lan-
guage was, as in many other developing countries, the image of the Modern Movement.
Some architects, "the first generation", trained in the J.J. School of Art in Bombay and
abroad, looked to Western architects and/ or the Modern Movement for inspiration. One
of the "first generation", Mehdi Ali Mirza was greatly inspired by Frank Lloyd Wright. The
"younger generation" 1 was a batch of locally educated architects who graduated in the
mid-60's. Many of them including some of the most commercially successful architects
1. Pg. 172, Mumtaz, Kamil Khan; "Architecture in Pakistan", Concept Media, Singapore 1985.
today, were taught following a purely Western model, by foreign educated young archi-
tects like KKM. Of his contemporaries, KKM writes:
"Where the criterion of excellence is the degree of assimilation of
current "Western" values, the foreign educated architect has a cer-
tain edge over his purely home-grown colleague. Indeed the faithful-
ness with which the catechism of the Modern Movement has been
learned is what distinguishes the best work of such foreign-trained
architects as Yasmin Lari, Habib Fida Ali and Unit Four in Karachi,
Javed Najm in Lahore and Anwar Saeed in Islamabad".1
KKM does not seem to be critical of their work in his book, simply analyzing their work as
being in the best traditions of Corbusian and post-war British modern architecture",
inspired by "Corbusier's functional mannerism". Or he calls it "International Style modi-
fied. 'Brutalism' adapted to local conditions".
This coincided with what he calls the phase of "foreign architects". Pakistan had less
than one architect per million people and the largest commissions were entrusted to for-
eign architects. The foreign labels not only gave the buildings an added prestige, at
home, but was an attempt to physically legitimize the nation in the race for modernity and
therefore progress. India was also a participant in the race, and Nehru's Corbusian
Chandigarh was a reminder, and, no doubt, thorn in the side of Pakistani Bureaucrats
and politicians. The non-contextuality of this International Style resulted in buildings not
1. pg 166, Ibid.
2. pg 172, Ibid.
responsive to climate or socio-economic conditions. However they were taken as para-
digms of modernity and models to be religiously followed, images to be mimicked super-
ficially by local architects.
A good example of the modified modern style is the Water And Power Development
Authority (WAPDA) House in Lahore, by Edward Durell Stone - "a parody on a Victorian
imitation of a Mughal imitation of a Gujrati pavilion",
is emblematic of the environmental
problems associated with this architecture that KKM and others have broken away from
all the while lamenting the poor choice of foreign architect for the most prestigious
projects of the country. While Louis Kahn and Le Corbusier put Dhaka and Chandigarh,
Fig-1. WAPDA House, Lahore, E.D Stone Fig-2 Presidency Complex, Islamabad, E.D. Stone
1. This building with all its glaring architectural failures, has ironically become one of the symbols and
visual references of the city of Lahore. Paradoxically, it has also fed the myth that a developing country
cannot afford the luxury of architecture. It is interesting to note that it towers over the colonial neo-classi-
cal building of the Provincial Assembly building.
2. Pg. 179, Ibid.
3. WAPDA House seems to be unconscious of its context, not only architectural (its scale breaks the har-
mony of Mall Road, and it seems to disregard Provincial Assembly building next to it) but also economic
and climatic context.
respectively on the architectural map of the world; E.D. Stone's Presidency Complex
seem to add to the sterility and lack of identity of the Pakistani capital, Islamabad. On the
contrary, according to the note published by the Capital Development Authority (CDA) on
the project for building a new capital city, national identity was very much on the menu.
"Though a new country we, as a people, are an old nation, with a
rich heritage. Inspired by a historical past... (we are) eager to build a
new city which in addition to being an adequate and ideal seat of
government, should also reflect our cultural identity and national
The terms 'cultural identity' and 'national aspirations' seem almost mutually exclusive in
the architectural context and the final architectural designs. While "national aspirations"
included progress and were fulfilled by the image of Modern buildings, yet 'cultural iden-
tity' was an invented tradition, a constructed identity. As Eric Hobsbawm has discussed in
"Invention of Tradition", invented traditions imply "continuity with the past. In fact, where
possible, they normally attempt to establish continuity with a suitable historical past". In
this case the cultural identity was religious, not regional. It was Islamic, and to be more
specific, of a deliberately chosen era of architectural history. (the glorious Mughal past)
The seat of continuous political conflict, the most prominent buildings in Islamabad, the
Presidency Complex while being designed was also the seat of architectural conflicts.
"The desire of the lay public for an architecture expressive of its Islamic culture and tradi-
tions... (conflicting with) the professional architect's compulsion to project an image of
A panel of internationally famous architects was first given the task for designing the
major buildings. Arne Jacobsen's design was uncompromisingly modern, not "national"
enough. Additions of Islamic features like arches and domes were proposed by CDA. But
Jacobsen's replacement Louis Kahn's design too, was rejected due to Kahn's inability to
"modify the design so as to reflect Pakistan's desire to introduce Islamic architecture in
Islamabad's public buildings".
Due to his design of the American Embassy in Delhi, Stone was considered to be most
sensitive to Mughal architecture and the Islamic heritage of architecture that the bureau-
crats wanted to be reflected in the buildings. He was commissioned, and eventually pro-
duced the landmark for Islamabad: the presidency complex with its Beaux Arts
monumentality and International Style that was planned to be camouflaged with arches
and domes
In Pakistani architecture, irony abounds. While the designs for secular buildings were
selected on the basis of Islamic nationalistic sentiments of the bureaucrats, the designs
for the Grand Mosque were judged according to secular considerations of the interna-
tional jury dominated by architects, in accordance with the "contemporary" planning ide-
als of the modern city of Islamabad. Even the token references to traditional designs by
the Turkish architect, Vedat Dalokay, who won, were discouraged.
1. pg187, Ibid.
1. pg187, Nilsson, Sten; "Islamabad, The Quest For A National Identity", quoted in Architecture in Pakistan
2. Pakistan Television (PTV) shows the Presidency Complex as the backdrop for National News.
"Regionalism, as we have seen, is often not so much a collective effort as it is
the output of a talented individual working with commitment toward some sort
of rooted expression".
A student of Kamil Khan Mumtaz at NCA, Sajjad Kausar
is one of the architects con-
cerned with architectural heritage. and admits that he too started out under the tutelage
of foreign trained architects, more aware of the modern movement, Corbusier and
Gropius, than something called "traditional architecture". He ascribes his regionalist shift
directly to the Aga Khan Award for Architecture (AKAA) ceremony, in Lahore (1980). The
award given to Hasan Fathy brought Kausar and others "in contact with a totally new
dimension, it seemed as if throughout our studies we were deliberately turning our body
on something that was very much there. This was the point that determined my direction.
The Idea appealed to me but the methodology to be adopted......was still a mystery".
The Aga Khan Award for Islamic Architecture, is one of the most important forums for
international communication between architects. As already mentioned, the award was a
major turning point for many architects. KKM admitted that it was one of the events that
brought about the dramatic change in his own outlook. The other was an identification of
a "western influence" on KKM's work by his students at the NCA. This undefined quality,
nevertheless, brought to his attention the existence of indigenous presence.
1. Pg. 156, Frampton, Kenneth; "Prospects for a Critical Regionalism", Perspecta 20, 1983.
2. Sajjad Kausar is one of the few people who has done research on mughal monuments and gardens. He co-
authored Shalimar Gardens. Lahore: Landscape. Form and Meaning.
3. S. Kausar, quoted in "Revitalizing the Vernacular", by Amin-ul-Haq Qazi, The Nation Sept. 18, 1991,
Being on the steering committee of the Aga Khan Award and being part of the resulting
"architecture culture" was an "eye opener" for him. However, this 'going back to tradition'
has a danger- as Edward Said writes in "Culture and Imperialism"
"Imperialism consolidated the mixture of cultures and identities on a
world scale. But its worst and most paradoxical gift was to allow peo-
ple to believe that they were only, mainly, exclusively white or black
or Western or Oriental. Just as human beings make their own his-
tory, they also make their cultures and ethnic identities. No one can
deny the persisting continuities of long traditions, sustained habita-
tions, national languages, and cultural geographies. But there
seems no reason except fear and prejudice to keep insisting on their
separation and distinctiveness, as if that was all human life was
Hasan Fathy has been criticized for his almost neo-orientalist visual depictions of
projects in Egypt that show a timeless, unchanging primitive present. And while some of
KKM's early presentation drawings of the time, are executed in a style clearly influenced
Fig-1. KKM, Competition Drawing for National Monument Fig- 2. Hasan Fathy, Drawing for a house.
by Fathy's miniature style paintings, instead of Arabic, the text is in Urdu, nevertheless in
a traditional script, rather than English. Yet it must be said that KKM has proposed the
use of appropriate technology as opposed to restrictively exclusive indigenous technol-
ogy. 'Separation' and 'distinctiveness' was achieved by the colonists in defining 'Hindu',
'Islamic' and 'Buddhist' architectural styles when faced with an overwhelming variety of
styles that were categorized and compartmentalized. These categories have not only
continued into the present discourse, but every effort was made to reinforce them.
During the added impetus to Islamization during the eleven year long dictatorship of
General Zia (1977- 1988), what was Islamic was appropriated by the government and
religious political parties. A greater identification with Saudi Arabia began to grow, at the
expense of an identification with the region. Inventing itself and its history, Pakistan sys-
tematically subdued
whatever did not conform to its unfolding identity. Salman Rushdie
writes,:" To be a believer is not by any means to be a zealot. Islam in the Indo-Pakistan
sub-continent has developed historically along moderate lines, with a strong strain of plu-
ralistic Sufi philosophy; Zia was this Islam's enemy".
And while on one hand, Pakistan constantly referred to being the inheritor of the Mughal
era, ignoring the varied strains of religion or region; and consciously chose those parts of
the culture which conformed with an Islamic identity promoted by the State.
1. The intellectual left came under increasing attack by Zia's policies of censorship and an unsuccessful,
often unpopular Islamization program as HE saw fit. One of the most famous voices of dissent was that of
Faiz Ahmed Faiz. who was also a prisoner of conscience more than once. Faiz writes in a poem titled"
Zalim" (The Cruel Tyrant): Mine is the new religion, the new morality/ Mine are the new laws, and a new
2. Pg.53-55, Rushdie, Salman. "Zia ul Haq 17 Aug. 1988" in Imaginary Homelands.
At the same time KKM concedes that "'Pakistani' identity in architecture, as in anything
else, is what ever the common perception of Pakistani architecture happens to be at any
given time. Currently, you might say it is not much different from other "Gulf Islamic" third
world societies: a manifest confusion. The criteria by which we discard or appropriate
architectural traditions or styles, is purely a subjective matter. As modernists we dis-
carded all styles, the past, history, the lot. As the "naukar-shahi"l we appropriated selec-
tively the 'Shaahi' architecture of the great Mughals. As Post-modernist, we selectively
appropriated the politically correct ethnic architectures of "our people". As born again
fundamentalists we have taken the shortest cut to the "halvai ki dukan".
"It is a sad reflection on ourselves that we, the heirs to Sigiria and
Anuradhapura; Fatehpur Sikri and the Taj, Mahastangarh and Gaur
Wazir Khan's Mosque and the Shalimar Gardens, should be lament-
ing the lack of regional relevance and appropriateness in our con-
temporary architecture".
-Kamil Khan Mumtaz, at the Aga Khan Award for Architecture 2nd
Regional Seminar at Dhaka, 1985
3. In the confusion of history and tradition, the little bronze dancing girl of the Indus Valley Civilization,
even the North Indian classical dance tradition of Kathak, developed at the Mughal courts, were not only
forgotten through a censorship of memory, but officially banned.
I. naukar-shahi: royal servants
2. halvai ki dukan: confectionery shops, decorated in the popular style with mirror mosaics, imitating shish
mahals of Mughal architecture. From interview January 1996.
2.3 Anjuman Mimaran
Perhaps the most important of KKM's projects in progress, is a future Building Arts
School, which might influence the direction of architecture in Pakistan. From the AKAA
came a change in perspective and desire to start afresh from the basics- that was the
basis for the founding of Anjuman Mimaran
in 1987. Leading to its formation was a grow-
ing unease
in the senior members of the architectural community with the state and
direction of architectural education in the country since Independance.
The idea for a building school
and the need to recreate the "traditional link between the
professional architect and our indigenous building craftsmen",
was expressed by KKM
in regional seminars.
"We believe that a meaningful and relevant architecture is only possible
if this link is strong. We also believe that it is not too late to restore it in
our regions. The task will certainly not to be easy, it will be complex and
demanding. But it can be done. A beginning could be made with a new
approach to architectural education. One that a) reintegrates learning
with practice, b) encompasses all the building arts in a common frame-
work, and c) provides a forum for critical analysis and debate on the
theoretical issues of architecture in our respective regions".5
1. Anjuman Mimaran= gathering/ society of builders.
2. Pg.52, Zahir-ud-Din Khwajah, "Introduction to Anjuman Mimaran, Temples of Koh-e-Jud.
3. Mumtaz, Kamil Khan; "A Proposal for a Building School" a paper presented at a seminar on architectural
education, University of Engineering Technology, July 1983 and "A Future Without a Past"; Paper, UIA
Region IV Conference, Karachi, 1985.
4. Pg. 1, Mumtaz, Kamil Khan; "Preface", Temples of Koh-e-Jud.
5. Ibid.
The organization would establish a school with a curriculum based on Pakistani culture
and tradition. At the same time the group realized there was little or no research or scho-
lastic material on which to base the theoretical framework of the school. There were no
teaching tools: no history, or manuals, or dictionaries of indigenous building terms in
Pakistan. The organization started organizing seminars, publishing the seminar papers,
carrying out documentations and studies to create a body of literature as a basis for the
teaching curriculum. Monthly colloquia were organized to which architectural historians
and researchers were invited to share results of their work, and of field trips and study
tours organized by the Anjuman.
One of these trips was to the Salt Range region of Pakistan to study the undocumented
temples that had been mentioned by various sources, but never researched or studied
before. About this field trip, KKM writes the "implication of our findings were stagger-
ing".i'The group had unearthed a link between the Gandhara and Sultanate period,
where previously had been a vast gap: "a new chapter had to be added to the history of
the development of the Hindu temple architecture in the Subcontinent".
A seminar and exhibition: "Hindu Shahiya Temples of the Salt Range, June 1989" was
organized by the Anjuman with the Lahore Chapter of the lAP and the Lahore Conserva-
tion Society. Possibly the first such seminar, it was well attended and well received by
architects, and student delegations from the schools of architecture.
1. Pg. 2, Ibid.
2. Ibid.
The second Seminar was "Sultanate Period Architecture in Pakistan (November, 27th-
30th, 1990)" and the proceedings of the first two seminars were published by the Anju-
man Mimaran. The next year, a seminar was held on "Historic Towns of Pakistan (Octo-
ber 28 November, 1991), and the following year "Urban Domestic Architectural Traditions
in Pakistan (November 26-27, 1992) Pakistan was also a host to the ARCASIA in 1992.
The cycle of seminars came to the present discourse with "Contemporary Architecture in
Pakistan, (October 22, 1993).
An important element in these events was the presence of a large body of student volun-
teers from local architecture schools, for whom these events were a catalyst in their
approach to architecture. Before the end of the semester, and theses, a body of students
from various years at NCA, requested KKM to help them to find a method of design
inquiry, and approach to their final projects, which suddenly seemed baseless and the
unsatisfactory end result of an outdated curriculum. KKM volunteered to host an informal
three day Seminar on approaches to design, and for many of the participants, this was a
first and eye-opening glimpse of critical discourse in architecture. The incident re-estab-
lished the necessity, and validity of the proposal for the Building Arts School. "The princi-
pal object of the Anjuman is to re-establish the important historical link between the
architect and the craftsman and to transform the attitude which has so far been adopted
in our schools of architecture, which mainly derive their inspiration from the west".1 About
this broken historical link, KKM writes that it began from the official architecture of the
British Raj in India- the Anglo-Indian style which "included everything from complete
1. Pg. 53 Ibid
gothic steeples to classic revival and Palladian villas set in Capability Brown Land-
scapes". Often, special buildings were designed by British architects, and trimmed with
accessories from a desired style, sometimes recruiting "local talent to supply the authen-
tic details".
The problem with "authenticity" was that while the local architect was something of a rar-
ity, he was thoroughly "anglicized" in his training. Of the most famous of these KKM
writes, "for all the period detailing of such able assistants as (Bhai) Ram Singh, buildings
like High Court and Aitchison Chiefs College in Lahore.... are no more 'Indian' or
'Mughal' than the house of Parliament in Westminster are "Gothic".
In earlier times the master builder and craftsman were formally inducted into a Sufi order,
as is discussed later in this work, but the break in this tradition also resulted in what he
terms as 'Muslim", as opposed to 'Islamic' architecture.
The Anjuman has also become increasingly involved in professional work including res-
toration of Sayyida Mubarik Begum Haveli belonging to Babar Ali's family, in the walled
city of Lahore; restoration of Kotla Mohsin Khan Gateway, nearing completion in Pesha-
war; restoration of Sethi House, Peshawar, at initial stages; Lok Virsa Museum facades,
Islamabad, and the nearly complete Lok Virsa. The state of the Anjuman at present is
relatively dormant regarding the colloquia. This is due to the nature of the organization
as a voluntary one. Their activities have been sporadic depending on the nature and vol-
1. Pg. 117, Mumtaz, Kamil Khan; Architecture in Pakistan, Mimar Book, Concept Media, Singapore1985.
ume of research undertaken by its members, as well as time and financial constraints.
The last seminar was "The Grand Tradition, Architectural Design Principles" (October, 1
to 7, 1995), and none are planned in the near future. However, field trips continue as time
permits, and recent ones have been to the Early sultanate, probably Ghaznavi, mosques
near Kalar Kahar, on the Pothowar Plateau; and Sasanian Period Zoroastrian funerary
structures in Kharan District, Balochistan.
2.4 The Aga Khan Awards
While accounts and introductions' to the Anjuman do not credit the AKAA with the idea
for its formation, forums such as the Regional Seminars of the AKAA certainly strength-
ened and/or introduced the concept and indeed the desirability, of the 'regional approach
to architecture'. And while the role of the AKAA in the formation of this society is never
emphasized, KKM has on more than one occasion credited it as HIS turning point.
made me look at my own architecture: history, principles.
Another significant pointer in the direction of the AKAA is "a list of significant papers on
the subject... provided by the Anjuman".
The authors include those who in some way,
have been involved in the AKAA. The papers are a service provided by the Anjuman and
are copies of papers received and extracts from publications in their library, many from
seminar proceedings.
Are Pakistani architects, even Kamil Khan, "chasing the Award"? According to KKM, it
might be good if they WERE chasing the award and seriously looking to the award as an
incentive. However, he says, that is not the case in his view
. Perhaps in the earlier
cycles of the award, it might have appeared that there was going to a major impact and
people would turn to their own ground. The initial interest by Pakistani architects contrib-
uted to a certain amount of turning towards their own heritage as a basis for architecture.
1. Pg. 52-54.Temples of Koh-e-Jud.
2. Pg. 65, Interview January 1997, and Interview in Folio.
3. Pg. 54, Ibid.
4. Interview January 1997.
"However, unfortunately, most cases have been on a superficial level, which might be
due to a superficial understanding as to what the Award is all about. But really that
springs from a superficial understanding of what architecture is all about." By this, KKM
alludes to the lack of dissemination of information about the award. Its most valuable
contribution: the seminar proceedings and the published debates, arguably have some-
how not made it into the mainstream architecture discourse in Pakistan.
KKM feels that architects interested in exploring the indigenous heritage (Sajjad Kausar,
Pervaiz and Sajida Vandal), use the materials and forms, surface decoration, colors etc.,
but without a deeper understanding of the basis of attitudes behind the approach of that
"Kind is reverted to type very quickly because the stronger pull con-
tinues to be what's perceived as the current trend in the mainstream
of architecture, that is, the West, and what is understood by 'post-
modernism', 'deconstruction', etc.".
As a result, a limited number of architects and few architecture students, if any, know
about the awarded projects and the reasons for their selection more than their visual
impact- thus rendering their inherent merit to a style.
According to KKM, better situation exists in the region. He names Charles Correa and
Doshi as architects are looking at their indigenous architecture in "a profound manner".
1. Ibid.
Correa has been criticized for his 'playing to the West' which recognizes him as long as
he stays within his niche of exoticism his architecture, in a very superficial, cartoony use
of traditional principles of architecture. Kamil Khan recognizes that aspect of keeping an
eye on the West "you might say that his turning to Indian classical sources is as much a
response to his OWN exposure to the Award as to a lot of post-modernist thinking about
architecture", but maintains, nevertheless, that Correa has made a genuine effort to
interpret and incorporate those principles, specifically in the Crafts Museum, New Delhi.
Kamil Khan admires Doshi's Indore Housing scheme, which provides a framework within
which the indigenous genius of the people can play, and for different reasons, likes the
work of Geoffrey Bawa and Muzharul Islam. In Pakistan, he says the Indus Valley School
of Art and Architecture, in Karachi is a "pleasant surprise", because it is a thoroughly
modernist building; which is difficult to find in this day and age, "beyond that it 's difficult
to find very good architecture in Pakistan. So much junk that's going on!" he laments on
the state of contemporary architecture in the country.
On the other hand, the situation is a little better in India and he believes there is one clear
reason for that which is the presence of a good architecture journal -Architecture +
Design, and a few other, lesser journals. "I think that architectural journalism is ESSEN-
TIAL to inspire, motivate, instigate even. If you know someone is watching over your
shoulder, it makes a big difference. Where that is lacking, then its a kind of irresponsible
situation. That is the key element lacking here".
2.5 The Role of Crafts in the Spiritual Context
Through his personal experience and interviews with craftsmen
, and his readings about
traditional crafts
, KKM proposes that traditional crafts have a role in Islamic architecture
that is distinct from building and decorative crafts of other sacred architectural traditions,
and need to be studied and understood in relation to the religious doctrines and practises
specific to Islam. By "traditional",
he refers to those forms developed in a pre-industrial
environment. 'Islamic Crafts' were those associated with Islamic rituals and beliefs. In
these arts and crafts, while open to change and evolution, the ideal was not innovation or
creativity, resulting in a uniqueness, but perfection in terms of existing norms. They had
to satisfy the utilitarian and functional requirements, as well as the aesthetic ideals in
terms of change, proportion, color, texture, etc.
"Creativity" was the sacred realm of the Creator, and never credited to craftsmen, and
therefore never sought as a goal.
Solutions to problems even by Master craftsmen were
attributed to a divine source in Islam,
where "the most Beautiful names: al Khaliq, al
Bari, al Mussawwir"
are "the Creator, the Evolver, the Bestower of forms" 7writes KKM.
1. Mumtaz, Kamil Khan; "Mistree Ghulam Hussain: A Conversation With A Traditional Building Crafts-
man", Mimar 10, Concept Media, Singapore, 1983.
2. KKM refers to Ananda Coomaraswamy's Dance of Shiva (Munshiram Manoharlal, Delhi 1982-p.44) and
Titus Burkhardt's Fez: City of Islam (Islamic Texts Society, Cambridge 1992. Pp 76-79)in "Crafts in
Islamic Architecture", presented at the Lok VIrsa Seminar on Creativity in Traditional Islamic Arts,
Islamabad, October 1994.
3. KKM, "Crafts in Islamic Architecture", presented at the Lok Virsa Seminar, 1994.
4. Ibid
5. Ibid. KKM narrates his personal experience with a master metalworker who attributes his success in solv-
ing complex problems to divine guidance received through dreams.
6. Quran. Surah Al-Hashr.
7. KKM, "Crafts in Islamic Architecture", presented at the Lok Virsa Seminar, 1994.
This is not uncommon in other traditional cultures where crafts have been ascribed
divine sources and their manufacture takes on spiritual aspect.
Thus, not only the creation of objects, but the objects themselves take on another aspect
beyond the utilitarian and aesthetic perfection that is sought. This is the symbolic or com-
municative aspect of objects. From symbols of wealth, or charms, to symbols of faith, or
representations of an ideal state.
However, there is no prescribed religious iconography such as the Hindu "Yantras",
Buddhist "Mandalas",
extending the potential of sacredness of everything.
This is the
central idea in the metaphysical aspects of Islam as seen in Sufism. This allowed Muslim
artists to freely assimilate/ adapt already existing cultural forms in the arts and crafts.
"Sufi doctrine and method, which considers 'outward form' as of no consequence in rela-
tion to the 'inner' contact, allowed Islamic art and architecture to produce some of its
most remarkable qualities: a unifying expression of the essential metaphysical dimension
of Islam; a diversity of regional forms; and a certain ambiguity or ambivalence, which
allow for a multiplicity of layers, or levels of meaning which can be simultaneously con-
tained in the same object." 6
1. KKM cites the example of the Ashanti in Ghana who attribute shamanistic powers to their craftsmen, and
Hindu craftsmen who trace the origins of their craft to specific deities.He also mentions Burkhardt's
encounter with a craftsman who ascribes a spiritual aspect to every act of manufacture or creation of the
simplest object.
2. Yantras Treatises like the Manasara and the Shilpa Shastra.
3. Mandalas=
4. KKM, "Crafts in Islamic Architecture", (presented at the Lok Virsa Seminar, 1994) and "Vernacular,
Religion and the Contemporary Expression", (Marg, Bombay, June 1996).
5. KKM, "Crafts in Islamic Architecture", presented at the Lok Virsa Seminar, 1994.
In the schools of thought springing from the source of Islamic doctrine - the Quran; it was
in "Tariqat" - the way to spiritual enlightenment, and in the Sufi circles that Muslim crafts-
men in the subcontinent were most honored. When entering an apprenticeship, most
craftsmen were also inducted into a Sufi 'Silsila' (spiritual chain). The calligraphers of the
Wazir Khan Mosque, Lahore, were all members of Sufi brotherhoods.
Recorded exam-
ples like the 16th century architect from Lahore, Ustad Bazid, who built the tomb of the
Sufi saint, Sheikh Dawood Jhunniwal at Shergarh in the Punjab
are testament to their
intention of using architecture as a symbol, a tool for meditation and convey abstract and
metaphysical ideas.
Thus, each aspect of the building worked to achieve the common goal of Unity- "Tawhid,
and the essential nature of Beauty, of apparent and hidden reality and of man's quest
and goal, and the relation of these concerns in the motifs and schema of Islamic art and
The spiritual quest and goal of Unity might be explicitly conveyed in the inscriptions and
calligraphy, and implicitly in architectural elements, and in the use of "sacred geometry".
KKM is influenced by his readings of Nader Ardalan and Laleh Bakhtiar's Quest for Unity.
Keith Critchlow's Islamic Patterns. He also refers to Andre Paccard
and quotes Henry
6. KKM; "Vernacular, Religion and the Contemporary Expression", Marg, Bombay, June 1996.
1. Ibid.
2. Ibid. and KKM, "Crafts in Islamic Architecture" (from an account in "Muqamat I Dawood" by Abdul
Baqi in an Urdu translation of a thesis by Mohammad Haider, 1931, Sayyid Mohammad Mohsin, Lahore)
3. Pg. 195, KKM, Architecture in Pakistan, Concept Media, Singapore 1985.
4. KKM, "Crafts in Islamic Architecture", presented at the Lok Virsa Seminar, 1994.
Corbin' in his papers. These writers seem to have fueled his interest not only in the tradi-
tional crafts but in religion. He has been profoundly influenced by writers including Lings,
Schuon, Burhardt, and others in his personal involvement with Islam and Sufism.
From these beliefs KKM develops the argument that as the role of religion in architecture
changed and modernity brought in a new kind of training for the architect, the traditional
architect lost his role as guide for the traditional craftsman, and the link between the two
was broken. While in the past (as in the Mughal courts) all the great architects were rec-
ognized professionals of high rank, the traditional architect was no longer recognized by
official, in this case British colonial, patronage.
However, the traditional hereditary craftsmen still use what is left of the traditional vocab-
ulary with various degrees of understanding as to their symbolic meanings. KKM pro-
poses that motifs and their symbolic meanings should be catalogued using different
methods such as the study of miniatures in historical texts, to revive an understanding of
underlying meaning.
KKM cites the example of the Bhong Mosque complex in Rahim Yar Khan, Pakistan a
project that received the Aga Khan Award for Architecture. This is a project where craft
and religion do play a central role, however, the results of the severed historical link,
5. Andre Paccard, "Traditional Islamic Crafts in Moroccan Architecture, Vol. 1, Edition Ateliers 74, Saint-
Joriz, 1980. (Pp. 134-311) mentioned in KKM, "Crafts in Islamic Architecture", presented at the Lok
Virsa Seminar, 1994.
1. Henry Corbin, Temple and Contemplation (KPI, London, 1986, Pp. 1-54), "The Science of the Balance
and the Correspondences between worlds in Islamic Gnosis" (Op Cit. Pp55-131), "Sabian Temple and
Ismailism" (Op Cit, Pp. 132-182) quoted by KKM in "Vernacular, Religion and the Contemporary
Expression", Marg, Bombay, June 1996.
between the traditional professional architect and the traditional craftsman are painfully
obvious. Without the guidance of the master architect, the limitation of the craft tradition,
is visible in a "growing tendency to incorporate forms perceived as symbols of moder-
The Western system had no place for these craftsmen, and without guidance they
became "a headless monster".
At the same time he says: "I was a bit surprised, and continue to be surprised at the
amount of criticism and controversy around the Bhong Mosque - it is a remarkable build-
KKm considers it one of the achievements of the AKAA that it has been able to
draw attention to areas of architecture which awards like these had tended to neglect or
ignore. He sees more than a pastiche of styles and decorative elements in the exuberant
popular expression of the Bhong Mosque. A master craftsman, Ustad Rahim Buksh
involved in the project and left behind a rare manuscript, a textbook of th grammar and
vocabulary of this inherited tradition. He was more than an artisan he was a master of
the traditional crafts with an understanding of the formal vocabulary, and its principles;
the proportioning systems, the technical terminology, "as close as you can get to tan
architect". Their drawing attest to their understanding of these concepts, however, they
were not professional architects, and were susceptible "to all kinds of external influ-
KKM seems to have taken on the role of that traditional architect, and seems to be in a
continuous process of reeducating himself. As discussed earlier, the perception that a
1. KKM; "Vernacular, Religion and the Contemporary Expression", Marg, Bombay, June 1996.
2. KKM, Interview January 1997.
3. Ibid.
4. Ibid.
new kind of building school was needed led to his involvement with the founding of Anju-
man Mimaran and carrying out research on indigenous building traditions.
KKM began using brick barrel vaults in the Kot Karamat Project (3.1a Fig). He continued
to explore the possibilities of using traditional brick vaulting techniques for spanning roofs
as a low cost solution in various residences in Lahore (see 3.2b Fig. 1-3) Initially, for the
barrel vaults he used masons with no previous experience in such structures. In his
recent projects, he has been able to work with some highly skilled hereditary craftsmen,
constructing flat domes. From whom he learned more about traditional building materials
and techniques.
His patronage of craftsmen, and use of traditional crafts in his building has been one of
this major contributions to the revitalization and revival, to some extent of this industry.
Several of these craftsmen families and "ustads" (masters) are still around, he says, but
not adequately recognized, and their skills are seldom properly utilized. Traditional crafts-
men are increasingly becoming scarce as they have not been apprenticing their offspring
in the hereditary craft traditions due to lack of work. KKM has not only provided them with
employment and a viable livelihood by incorporating crafts into his designs, but his
projects also displayed these crafts to a previously unaware audience. At the same time,
his projects show a synthesis of modern and traditional technology, for example the
Chandbagh School (3.3b. Fig. 2-3) and Darul Hikmat (3.3a Fig. 1-5).
Whether his work is being imitated in a pastiche, by some as "regionalist" forms become
increasingly fashionable, or whether he is influencing a body of like-minded architects,
traditional crafts have found a new audience and a revived patronage.
In his later projects, KKM exploits the decorative potential of brick. He uses perforations
in the brick parapets in patterns existing in the Walled City of Lahore, and repeats the
patterns in screen walls (3.2a Fig 1).
Another traditional building technique that KKM uses increasingly, is a special lime plas-
ter on interior walls called "pukka kalli" (permanent plaster). This is hand smoothed by
trained craftsmen to a highly polished surface that is washable. He has used this tech-
nique extensively in the Chandbagh School to keep building costs down and for its cli-
matic advantages as a hydroscopic. It is used as the base for freso-work, another craft
he has incorporated, as in the Darul Hikmat auditorium/ hall (2.4a Fig. 5). He was
exposed to this technique and met Master craftsmen when he worked as a consultant on
the restoration of Wazir Khan's Hammam, and Haveli Mubaraka Begum in the Walled
City, Lahore.
KKM was trained not to use decoration, but with an increasing interaction with craftsmen
and research of indigenous crafts and building techniques, he began his own re-educa-
tion. He has used woodwork, metalwork and glazed ceramic tiles in his projects, spe-
cially in his residential projects. In Sonu Rahman's residence (3.2a Fig 2), glazed
ceramic tiles have been used within the brick tiled floor pattern, and in an entrance foun-
tain.He uses the architectural element of the wooden "jharoka" (balcony), sometimes
using wood (3.2a Fig. 1), and at others- alluding to it with wrought iron grills (2.4 Fig. 4).
Finally, in the Lok Virsa arts and crafts museum in Islamabad, he was commissioned to
re-do the facade of the plain box-like building to showcase the crafts on display inside.
Fig-1. Axonometric Sketch, Mitha Residence, Islamabad.
Fig-2. Lok Virsa Crafts Museum Renovation, Islamabad.
2.4 Revival and Use of Traditional Crafts
Fig-1 Carved Wooden Door Fig-2 Brick Corbelling Fig-3 Arch Detail
Fig-4 Hall Interior with Plaster and Fresco work
Fig-5 Wrought Iron Grills
IB* $Al
3.1 a Kot Karamat Farmhouse, School and Workers' Housing
Location: Manga Mandi
Client: Mr. Zahid Karamat
Year Completed: 1969
.1 / 4A.
'I :~'..
3 l.
1. Farmhouse
2. Sheds
3. Worker's houses
4. School
Site Plan
-S Fr cls T F00
'casFasjro"n I Clsro
I I i IF
~tlI II
/ ,~ I 'II
I, /1
~ I II i;.,
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Fig-1 School Interior
School Plan
Fig-2 View of Sheds School Elevation
Plan of Farm House Fig-3 View of Farm House
Fig-4 Farm House Elevation
Why Chosen
The Kot Karamat project was one of KKM's first projects after his return from AA, and
Kumasi, Ghana. Another project, his fathers house' in Nazimabad, Karachi built earlier,
in 1965, shows the influence of his training and work in the Modern Movement, "I was
critical of the International Style which reduced the Modern Movement to a set of cliches
and symbols of Westernization and modernity".2Problems of Kot Karamat exemplify his
concern with social responsibility, which could equally be representative of his training in
the Modern Movement, as well as his political socialist ideology at the time.
The architect, himself, refers to the shortcomings of the project as an example of the mis-
takes of his past approach to architecture and personal ideology which differs radically in
some ways from that of the present. He refers to the project as one of his "Modern Move-
ment ones", 3 and derived through methods of scientific logic, using technology appropri-
ate to the local climate and economy and emulating the "efficient systems of the machine
In this project his rejection of the international style and move towards an architec-
tural expression based on an 'appropriate technology' is clearly evident.
Site/ Client
The Village of Kot Karamat is 50 kms away from metropolitan Lahore, and 5 kms away
from the National Highway. The site forms part of a village surrounded by cultivated
I. It has since been demolished, no documentation available.
2. Pg. 126, KKM, "A Search for an Architecture based on Appropriate Technology", in Theories and Princi-
ples of Design in The Architecture of Islamic Societies, The Aga Khan Program for Islamic Architecture
at Harvard University and the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, 1988.
3. KKM, Interview January, 1997. See also KKM's "A Search for Architecture Based on Appropriate Tech-
4. Pg. 125, Ibid.
fields, includes orchards and a pond. The compound consists of a farmhouse for the
owner and his family, a row of eight storage sheds, and workers housing. One of the
sheds have been converted to the foremans's residence and a worker's house was mod-
ified to a three-room school.
The workers houses were intended as prototypes demonstrating to the villagers the
advantages of permanent dwellings. A number of these house were constructed as pro-
totypes for the villagers. The main goal was to develop a low-cost system, with flexible
space to permit a variety of uses.
Structure and Materials
Since the cheapest and most permanent material available is brick (steel and concrete
had to be imported), it was decided to exploit the potential of brick to the maximum. It
was further decided to adopt a structural system which could provide a roof using brick,
thus the vault was used.
Climate Control
In the farmhouse and one of the workers house, the vault has been covered with earth
(retained by brick parapets) which provide insulation, and a usable terrace (because of
budgetary constraints, earth fill was omitted in later buildings). Buildings are oriented to
reduce sun's penetration, as most of the openings are small and face north and south.
Over the years, families living in the three prototype houses have added a number of sig-
nificant features such as mud compound walls, mangers for animals and outdoor kitch-
ens. Some of the windows have been blocked. One of the houses, which was earlier
converted to a school have been converted to a teachers residence. The space enclosed
by the three houses is now being used as an open air school.
In retrospect, KKM admits,
"I was convinced that my buildings were thus neccesserily regional,
and if my brick vaults were rejected by the community for whom they
were designed, I put this down to peasant suspicion of anything
new, and not to my own failure to recognize the functional advan-
tages of a flat roof as usable floor space in our climate".1
The plan of the workers housing, school and storage sheds was based on the module of
brick vault and is a serial reminiscent, perhaps of row housing in the UK, and definitely of
concept of mass production. In the exterior view of the staircase, one can see his coher-
ent use of an articulated structural system and careful detailing. Brick is used to create a
"jaali" (perforated screen) on the staircase landing. KKM refrains from using bricks for
decorative purposes, restricting himself to the articulation of structural elements, as in
the staircase steps (Fig 4), similar to his use of brick in his own residence.
1. Pg. 126, Ibid.
In later projects, we will see his use of brick for decorative and ascribing to his architec-
ture a spiritual or higher dimension as opposed to these initial concerns with "scientific
logic". In this project, the prototypes never really caught on although KKM used 80%
local labor. However, they were unskilled and the failure may have been due, in part, to
his initial lack of understanding of the role of the hereditary traditional craftsmen. He
started working with these master craftsmen more extensively in his later projects spe-
cially in the construction of flat domes.
The standard unreinforced brick vault was developed as a building module because it
eliminated the use of costly non-local material like steel, and minimized the use of
cement. Form work could be kept to a single reusable unit, for buildings meant for differ-
ent purposes, but following the modular.
The structural system was developed in Lahore and tested by loading full scale models
to destruction. A module of 3'-4" (approximately 1 meter) was adopted as a planning dis-
cipline. This was related to both brick dimension, and dimension of form work used in the
vault construction. The curve of the vault was based on a catenary (chain) modified to
take the load of earth fill over the vault. The vault spans 13 feet and has a rise of 6 feet.
The end bays are provided with buttresses to take the horizontal thrust from the
vault.80% of the construction workers were unskilled local labor.
The design solution was the result of application of modern structural design and analy-
sis to develop an efficient and economical use of material. Arches and brick vaults are
not unfamiliar, but they are reserved for more prestigious buildings. The prototypes were
never really accepted by the villagers for whom they were too alien and 'strange-looking'
in the residential context.
Finally, the technical review of the Aga Khan Award found that the local technology of the
pre-existing models was in fact better suited to the social environment and climate. Flat
roofs offer the possibility of sleeping out in the summer, drying produce etc., which the
vault did not provide. A flat roof required earth fill which raised costs. Further, the real
need of the village was that of infrastructure and not new types of housing. The people
were not receptive also because the landlord did not seem to have consulted with the
residents or with other landlords of the area. That, however, was the responsibility of the
client, and probably not the architect's.
3.2a Architects Residence
Location: Lahore
Client: Kamil Khan Mumtaz and his extended family
Year Completed: 1969
Fig-1 Front Elevation Fig-2 Entrance detail, Protected from Sun on south
Fig-4 Mr. Zakaullah Khan's (KKM's father) Residence,
Fig-3 Exterior View Nazimabad, Karachi (1965) Demolished
The joint family residence, made of independent units, KKM's own residence. It has enclosed gardens, he
also experiments with light weight structure. Another floor was added to accommodate his office. He uses
a lot of decorative exposed brick and wood work. His frank display of services (pipes) and structure is a
testimony to his commitment to appropriate technology.
As in previous project KKM's main concern in this project was a low-cost housing solution, but in this case,
in a primarily urban situation. The illustrations have been carefully chosen to show examples of his exploitation
of local building material- brick as a structural system, and one he starts using as a low-cost alternative for
parapets and railings.
The primary concern in this project was economy and maximum utilization of space. The clients were his
extended family and he, himself, all with varying space demands. The common concern being the cost of
project and independent access.
Structure/ Materials
The 'house' is actually a compact system of independent units, a kind of mini apartment block. A double story
exposed masonry structure with concrete slabs and cavity walls. Openings to the south are kept to a mini-
mum and protected by overhangs and balconies. Entrances are through, or from the side of the car porch.
Grooves left in ceiling while casting concrete act as the housing/ channels for exposed wiring. For the balco-
nies railings are designed using a precast concrete frame with a single brick tile filling. Similar detail is used
for parapets. His articulation and attention to detail of the openings for the air-conditioners is developed in his
later designs (Zaheer Sani's Residence).
The major decorative elements are the woodwork with traditional geometric patterns carved, as on the
doors. He also employed highly skilled masons trained to make brick arches traditionally with no shuttering.
He uses sequential concrete arches to span interiors, to define edges or to separate spaces without using
walls. This occasional use of free plan allows for a spatially pleasing interior that demarcates the junction of
dining/ living space for example, without compromising on the space available.
He began experimenting with the enclosed garden space, a kind of courtyard, using a light weight structure
supporting the wire mesh. He has used this detail in a lot of residential projects, and has now become a
popular solution for Lahore's climate. Wire mesh helps in keeping the insects out, plants and vines grow over
circulation- This area is kept cool by sprinkling water, or watering plants in the evening. This area brings the
outside to inside and at the same time stretches the interior space outwards, and when the doors are left
open, cool air circulates through the entire house.
3.2a Sonu Abdur Rahman's Residence
Location: 18-A Mia-mir Road, Lahore
Client: Sonu Abdur Rahman
Year Completed: 1989
Fig-1 Exterior View
Fig-2 Arch Detail Fig-3 Main Entrance with fountain
Why Chosen?
This building represents a period when KKM finds 'the right clients"or the other way around.
They belong to a group of intellectual elite who share his enthusiasm for traditional crafts
and seek him out for his increasing use of traditional crafts. This gives him an opportunity
to develop his ideas of incorporating traditional building techniques into otherwise simple
residential design. He also uses a lot of decorative elements and color.
The exterior facade has a high perforated brick wall covering the terrace. This alludes to a
kind of decorated ceremonial entrance gateway similar to those of Central Asian tradition.
It differs from other plans designed around a courtyard only in its elevation and detailing.
There is a terrace above garage, which is enclosed by a wall with brick patterns making it
a very interesting private space.
He exploits the decorative potential of bricks in creating the perforations in the parapet wall
and at the same time cuts on the material cost.
KKM uses wood work extensively in his buildings. In the exterior the buildings refer to the
wooden "jharokhas" or balconies in the havelis (old large residential buildings) of the walled
city of Lahore. The use of inlaid glazed tiles along with brick paving is something he has
picked from traditional buildings. It is used beautifully in the entrance court along with the
fountain to create a pleasant, double height indoor space. (Fig-3)
Post Modern gesture of the patterns on the gate has a danger of becoming kitch as the
colors become overpowering due to the change in scale of texture of the gate as com-
pared to the rest of the house. The terrace above the car porch is the most pragmatic
space due to the local climatic conditions, as it provides the neccessery shade from sun
and overcomes the social concerns.
Color becomes an important aspect of the theme, the two shades of blue used is in inlay
tile work suggests a juxtaposition of traditional glazed pottery and tilework. Balconies and
wood work too is painted light blue.
3.2b Lahore: Residences
Fig-1 Zaheer Sani's Residence:
Skylight covering Interior Court
Fig-2 Zaheer Sani's Residence:
Skylight Detail
Brick Corbelled Ledge for Air-Conditioner Fig-1 Ghazala Rehman's Residence:
Internal landscaped courtyard
Ghazala Rehman Residence
Location: Nisar Road, Lahore Cantt.
Client Ghazala and Rashid Rahman
Date Completed: 1989
Why Chosen
This project was built at the same time as Sonu Rahman's residence. As discussed ear-
lier, KKM was becoming more interested in indigenous crafts This project shows his
structural use of spanning courtyards with brick cross vaults. (see 2.5 Fig-2-3, Pg. 53)
Description/ Structure
He has used load bearing brick walls. A straightforward RCC slab roof has been used for
the most part except over the family lounge and the patios, there is a brick cross-vault
with brick arches at the intersections, running diagonally. In the patios only the diagonal
arches were used, in place of the brick vault, mosquito netting was installed. The diago-
nal arches were segmental, whereas the barrel vaults were closer to a catenary curve,
derived by simply projecting the segmental curve onto the orthogonal planes at 45
degrees angle to the plane of the diagonal.
The plan is a system of courtyards throughout the house used for light, ventilation and
landscaping. KKM ensured that these courts and patios become viable interior space by
the use of mosquito netting as well as wire mesh enclosed semi-open green spaces
(3.2b, Fig-3). On a formal sitting room ceiling, spare use of traditional fresco painting has
been used, decorating the cross vault or the base around the ceiling fan. Elsewhere, he
has also used a limited amount of mirror work inlay in ceilings.
3.3a Darul Hikmat Vocational Training Center
Location: Village Dullu Kalan, Lahore
Client: Darul Hikmat Educational Center
Year Completed: 1969
Site Plan
Common Roo SLick bay Staff
Floor Plan
Crafts Mall
".IL- .4"0iI i t -,"
Sectional Elevation
= MM ][-I CZ3-L----j 0=10;
I P7
Fig-1 Interior courtyard
Fig-3 Enclosed courtyard with skylight above
Fig-5 Elevation
Fig-2 Exterior Court
Darul Hikmat, a vocational training center for disadvantaged and poor Christian boys and
girls also houses dormitories, a primary school and staff residences.
The clients wanted a low cost, flexible building where a space could be converted for dif-
ferent uses (dorms, classrooms, labs etc.) according to need. They required that the
building absorb change and allow for growth and expand both horizontally and vertically.
They also wanted a a culturally relevant building- an atmosphere that would not be intim-
idated, but one that the students could identify with.
KKM chose the language of traditional urban vernacular which he felt best answered
these requirements. Hence the use of inward looking courtyard buildings only 2-3 storeys
high, "and narrow lanes or circulation corridors with subtle shifting axes, that avoid end-
less vistas and create delightful surprises".)
It is arguable if the builders of the traditional towns worked with such a final vision in
mind, but the process of codification is almost inherent in the architectural process and
reflects in the desire of designers to incorporate formally into design, such informally-
perhaps accidentally occurring urban phenomena as the charming open public squares
of Fez, for example.
Kamil Khan Mumtaz is inspired by the "rubbish heap of our own history: built forms from
individual buildings to the composite morphology of our historic towns",
and for Darul
1. Pg. 66, Contemporary Architecture in Asia.
2. Interview January 1996
Hikmat, he says the inspiration was the "high density, low-rise, low-tech massing of our
urban forms. But overlaying this was, (a) the geometric discipline of our architectural
schemes, and (b), a hangover, (can't get rid of it) from the modernist concern with 'sys-
tems' building. What is clearly lacking, on hind sight, as I have admitted before, is a hier-
archy of spaces, and also perhaps a better defined 'frame' establishing the edge, or limit
of the universe in question".
1. Ibid
3.3 a Chandbagh School
Location: Sheikhupura-Muridke Link Road
Client: Doon School Society of Pakistan
Year Completed: 1994
Fig-1 Model showing complete build out
Site Plan
Main Academic Block
17___ F=
- .
Typical Boarding House Block
0 a ?.I
Adminitrallon Block
East Elevation SC.L 0 1 2 m.
Administralon Block
West Elevation SCALu 023
Elevations- Administration block Fig-2 Administration block
Detail of courtyard, with fountain detail Fig-3 Connecting Passage
Concept Sketches
0' 21 -
L ... A... Mod
In 1990, a design competition was organized by the Doon School Society of Pakistan, to
initiate the building of a sister school to the prestigious boy's boarding school in Dehra
Doon, India. The Old Boys' Association is made up of important bureaucrats and busi-
nessmeni, who want their children and grand children to attend a school like their alma
mater, but are unable to do so due to the politically volatile relationship between the two
The project presented an interesting problem: that of somehow tying the schools
together and evoking the memory of the original, yet having a distinctly Pakistani iden-
Thus while it was important to propose a school built on the precepts of Doon
School, and create the atmosphere the Old Boys' remembered and cherished, the
anchoring of the project in a "Pakistani" tradition must certainly have appealed to the
politically well-placed people who had raised funds for the project (for example a former
governor of the province). Besides the validity of the design proposal, this aspect must
certainly have played an important role in allowing KKM to pursue his concepts of
"Islamic Architecture", and making his the winning entry.
When he visited the original school in Dehra Dun, he realized that the "moving" spirit,
was the continuous sequence of movements, across the campus, and through the build-
ings. The design for the Chand Bagh School, which began as an interesting experiment
with "fractel" geometry, that appeared to him to have many parallels with traditional
1. Members of the Old Boys' Association, including General Jilani (former governor of the Punjab), and
Khursheed Marker (Board member World Wide Fund for Nature-Pakistan) raised funds to recreate the
kind of atmosphere the Old Boys remembered and cherished.
2. Ansari, Z.; "Old Boy's Dream and an Architects Vision", The News on Friday, January 13, 1995.
design schemes, was discarded after his visit to Dehra Dun. Later he was inspired by a
visit to garden residences in Wazirabad. "This is neither the house in the garden nor the
garden in the house, but the house and garden. Here we have building and landscape as
equal partners in the scheme. So the Chand Bagh School has turned out to be more
about plants, water, and people in motion, rather than about buildings".)
His vision realized the dream in the Chandbagh School in Sheikhupura, just outside is hoped that when completed, the new "Doon School" across the border, will
be a model not only in its academic agenda, but as a model of workable architecture for
the region.
The name of the school, "Chandbagh", or the moon-garden, is not only inspired by the
school magazine, but is translated into a physical reality. According to the architect, the
buildings are "almost incidental" and will eventually disappear behind the landscaping.
Buildings are separated according to their functions: administrative, academic, and resi-
dential- and are connected by a system of courtyards of varying sizes, planted with trees
for shade, or aromatic trees. Boarding Houses will be identified by the predominant trees
in the vicinity - shisham, jamun, amultass, peepal, etc. There are fruit orchards, vegeta-
ble gardens and wheat fields on parts of the 450 acre site to make the school self-suffi-
1. Interview, January 1996, Lahore.
cient and provide fresh organically grown food for the boys. Avenues and footpaths will
be lined with flowering trees. An elaborate water system of tube wells, canals, and drain-
age channels has been worked out to feed the site. Open irrigation channels feed the
grounds and the garden courts. Fountains in each court are also fed by water pipes from
tube wells. Surplus water, and rain water run-off from the roofs drains into "baulis" or
water reservoirs shaped like stepped wells.
Building System And Climate Control
A great proponent of "appropriate technology", Kamil Khan Mumtaz uses an economical
and climate-conscious building system of load-bearing brick walls and waffle slabs for
roof and flooring. There are many examples of indigenous systems incorporated inven-
tively into the design. For example the internal finish is a lime and "surkhi"
plaster called
"pukka kalli".
This is hand-smoothed under the supervision of master craftsmen and
produces a satin smooth washable finish costing no more than a good industrial emul-
sion paint. Yet this traditional material keeps the wall surface cool to the touch even in the
most sweltering heat. Climate control is achieved primarily through correct orientation of
buildings. Windows are protected by narrow verandahs and arcades. Studio spaces are
illuminated by the use of clerestory windows, which allow rising hot air to escape and at
the same time reduce the need for electrical lighting.
1. Surkhi= Red Sand.
2. Pukka Kalli= Permanent Plaster.
4.1 Contemporary Synthesis; Bringing together the Spiritual, Traditional and the
Definitions and classifications of architecture may be arbitrary in the worst case, or irrele-
vant to the creator at best, but they ARE an important tool for retrospective analysis with
which to deconstruct motives, intentions and ideas, specially if that architecture is being
studied for its merits as a model for inspiration and/ or direction.
Therefore, it is important to distinguish between regional, regionalist, and critical region-
alist architecture. Kamil Khan noted that the lack of substantial architecture in Pakistan
was due in part to the lack of understanding of architecture as a whole.
One might say it
is the distinctions between the above categories that architects are unaware of, or tend to
ignore. It is the engagement of these concepts in KKM's discourse that differentiates his
architecture from that of the mainstream to a great extent.
Thus regional architecture is what is often referred to as the vernacular whose generat-
ing principle is an un-self-conscious pragmatism. Regionalist architecture, on the con-
trary, is the self-conscious, architect designed, rejection of Modernism's mass culture,
and looks to the 'place' and its history for inspiration. Postmodern regionalism is similar
in its interest in contextuality, according to one critic, it often "tends to rely more on imag-
ery and style than physical materiality to make the connection to place. This attitude can
lead to cartoon-like results where wit overruns respect and historical reference becomes
1. KKM, Interview, January 1997.
kitsch.... Rather than seriously cultivating a sense of place, these works mock place by
distorting scale and disconnecting the images from their tectonic reality.
The dilemma of architects in their quest for identity is stated by the same critic: "This is
the dilemma of architecture which tries to be regionalist in terms of image. It either ends
up parodying traditional forms if it interprets them in new materials or it must so precisely
imitate the past that it ends up denying the continuity of the past into the present".
The alternatives, says Ellen Dunham-Jones, are the attempt at representing the "spirit of
the place", the genius loci. This reference may be through typology. This immediately
brings to mind KKM's references to urban morphology and typology- specifically in his
Darul Hikmat School Project discussed later. Another is in the analysis of the regional
style and its determining factors:
"When these aspects of place are synthesized with the conditions, not
of the past (which led to past styles), but with the conditions of the
present, that synthesis approaches what Kenneth Frampton has called
critical regionalism. This is the regionalism which is critical of the debili-
tating aspects of modern culture but is equally critical of the sentimen-
tal, cartoony regionalist efforts which deny modern culture's existence.
It is suspicious of regionalist works whose references remain concep-
tual rather that tangible. And, it is suspicious of the capacity for regional-
1. Pg. 16-23, Dunham-Jones, Ellen; "Of Time And Place; Regionalism and Critical Regionalism", Colon-
nade, Vol V, no 1, Summer 1990.
2. Pg. 17, Ibid.
ism to be abused politically as a source of isolationist, nationalist or
chauvinist strategies".
The above description of what critical regionalism is: a synthesis, and isn't: a pastiche
could almost be a description of KKM's approach as stated in his writing, and more
recently, in its architectural expression. One aspect of the above analysis deserves spe-
cial attention: the "denial of modern culture's existence". One must admit, though, that
does not DENY it as much as DEFY it.
He admits that he is a traditionalist, and identifies with others of the same school who
prescribe a return to tradition as a solution (pragmatic, from their point of view) to the ills
of modern culture. An approach that is often called "romantic". At the same time, he
really does NOT deny modern culture's but DOES attempt a synthesis in his use of mod-
ern technology, which makes dunham-Jones' further elaboration of Frampton's thesis
problematic- or perhaps KKM's place within it: "Frampton differentiates between a reac-
tionary or conciliatory regionalism which dogmatically promotes the traditional over the
innovative, the local over the universal".2
At the same time it may be said that while promoting tradition, KKM does not consider it
mutually exclusive with innovation. The synthesis of time and place in Frampton's thesis
is an essential quest of critical regionalism as opposed to regionalism which seeks to
only maintain a continuity of place. Since an important aspect of KKM's discourse is his
1. Ibid
2. Ibid
emphasis on "continuity", his traditional view might be dismissed by some as "freezing
time in the past",
but for the body of intellectuals who prescribe to the view, it is a way for
the future. If critical regionalism mediates "between man and the earth",
in KKM's case
one might replace 'earth' with 'divine'.
The recognition of critical regionalism as a valid architectural discourse is reflected in the
seminar proceedings and jury selections of awarded projects of the AKAA. Since the def-
inition of the term is not rigid, as laid out by Frampton, the work of an architect like KKM
can be termed as critical regionalist.
It is more difficult to draw parallels between architecture whose work falls within the poles
established by Frampton, although they may overlap in various ways. Can KKM's work
be placed in the same category as the architects Frampton evaluates? Can one compare
KKM to, say, Tadao Ando or Louis Barrragan? These are famous architects who built
widely with different resources (specially financial) and on a different scale. However, it is
possible to compare the similarity of their approaches, or their discourse in order to
understand their place within the architectural discourse.
Like Barragan's "opposition to the invasion of privacy in the modern world and his criti-
cism of the subtle erosion of nature",
and recommendation that gardens be enclosed,
one might draw parallels to the traditional enclosed courtyard gardens covered by wire
1. Pg. 18, Ibid. An illustration being the traditional style rendering of Fathy showing timeless land and prim-
itive people.
2. Pg. 23, Ibid.
3. Pg. 152, Frampton, Kenneth; "Prospects for a Critical Regionalism", Perspecta 20, 1983.
netting in many of KKM's residential designs. Another parallel can be drawn between
KKM and The Italian architect Gino Valle, who Frampton says "may be classified as criti-
cal and regionalist inasmuch as his entire career has been centered around the City of
Udine in Italy....".
Japanese architect, Tadao Ando's arguments, according to Frampton, are similar to
those posited by his theory of critical regionalism. KKM's similarity with Ando's theories
lies in their realization that a universal vocabulary of modernism makes a rooted cultural
expression difficult. Ando's "development of a trans-optical architecture where the rich-
ness of the work lies beyond the initial perception of its geometric order",
brings to mind
KKM's theory that a brick wall or arch is more than a celebration of material in traditional
However, while Ando appeals to the senses, for KKM, it is the appeal to the
spiritual intellect which traditional architecture tried to achieve and which inspires him.
An interesting fact is that critical regionalism is not time-bound or a contemporary 'move-
ment'. Frampton has quoted Alexander Tzonis' evaluation of Dimitri Pikionis and Aris
Konstantinidis' 1930's architecture in Greece.
So can KKM's earlier architecture of Kot
Karamat in the 70's generated by a Modernist training be also considered as critical and
regionalist? Perhaps the only difference between his earlier work and recent projects is
the level of synthesis it achieves and his own agenda.
1. Pg. 155-156, Ibid.
2. Pg. 159, Ibid.
3. Interview January 1997.
4. Pg. 61, Frampton K.;"Prospects for a Critical Regionalism", Perspecta 20, 1983.
4.2 His Influence
KKM is mostly limited to an intellectually and financially elite clientele that is the initial
recipient of the 'ethnic'" dose. The indirect recipient are the non-elite who aspire to the
status of the dominant class but are, however, "lacking the material or intellectual
resources to dominate, but with every pretension to producing architecture with a capital
So on a local scale too, in architecture, there exists an exclusivity based on class.
In popular architecture, the use of brick as an appropriate material becomes a brick-tile
facade pasted over a concrete block structure. And the courtyard as an indigenous archi-
tectural element developed in accordance with the climatic conditions over time,
becomes a status symbol for a class of noueveou rich building residences on large plots
of land with central air-conditioning, where the courtyards are almost randomly punched
holes with an aesthetic, rather than utilitarian purpose.
Kamil Khan Mumtaz has been influential in the re-introduction of traditional elements and
technology. However, while it is carefully studied by him, it inevitably gets picked up as a
fad by more commercial architects. His post-modern gesture of wrought iron grills, allud-
ing to protruding, traditional balconies for a famous politicians house, was quick to be
incorporated in nearby houses by more commercial architects who used the element and
rejected or ignored the ideas and inserted similar balconies in an otherwise concrete
structure based on a Western model.
1. "Traditional and Contemporary Architecture in Pakistan", Paper for Anjuman Mimaran seminar.
2. Pg. 192, Mumtaz, Kamil Khan; Architecture in Pakistan.
"The term has, of course been further discredited by the enthusiasm of
lay patrons- politicians, bureaucrats and private clients alike who
insisted on applying the term Islamic to certain specific forms associ-
ated with a particular period, location or dynasty, in the belief that they
are thereby championing the cause of Islam".
1. Ibid.
Fig-1 Sajjad Kausar's use of 'Chini Khana's' (Niches)
Fig-2 Sajjad Kausar's Regionalism and use of Niches Fig-3 Popular Pastiche
Fig-4 Comparison of Recently Built Houses Fig-5 Popular Contemporary use of Arches and 'Jaalis'
4.3 Economic
As discussed earlier, the relationship and role of the architect has been misunderstood in
the public sector and has been subservient to that of the civil engineer. Most examples of
buildings that fall short of the criteria for acceptable architecture- be it aesthetic, techni-
cal, theoretical, climatic, or economic- seem to be Public buildings! These are seen as
vehicles of corruption, with every type of contractor and manufacturer trying to use
unethical means to have their products used in the building.
The private sector, specially the upper middle class and the affluent, on the other hand
have been more receptive and encouraging to the role of the architect. As a result, much
of the noteworthy architecture has been residential in the past and continues to be (along
with a growing demand for corporate architecture) the area where architects like Kamil
Khan Mumtaz and others can try and express their ideas.
In Pakistan, the architect is vulnerable at the hands of clients due to the lack of apprecia-
tion of his role. Architects like Kamil Khan Mumtaz who try to stick to their principles, say
that they do so at their own risk, jeopardizing future commissions. This is also true
regarding fees based on the established minimum percentage with some government
officials demanding a percentage of these fees as a payoff. It is almost logical that those
who shy away from these practises, are less likely to be commercially successful (that is
1. The Pakistan International Airlines Headquarters in Lahore is a case in point. Ah-iitect Javed Najm of
Lahore had to sue to get paid. He expresses dissatisfaction at the execution o his design which was
intended to be a modern building in crisp lines, but was completely finished on the exterior in burgundy
colored bathroom tiles. Which the manufacturer managed to switch using illegal methods. Interview, Jan-
uary 1995.
not to say that every commercially successful architect is corrupt).
What have the financial results of his work and ideas been on his practise? KKM main-
tains with the backing of his religious beliefs that while there have been many ups and
downs, and he runs a small office, he is satisfied with the level of his commercial success
(or the lack of it some would argue). It is enough, he says, that he has "managed to keep
body and soul together and maintained a family".
1. KKM, Interview via internet, Spring 1997.
4.4 Discourse
Kamil Khan's work, writings and philosophy are interesting specially in that they go
through many of the phases of development of national identity that Fanon, Gellner,
Kohn and others have discussed. (see chapter 1.3). These are: The post-colonial desire
to be modern, and appropriate the west as its mantle is shunned off and discarded. At
the same time, clinging on to some chosen characteristics of "otherness" to show pride in
national identity- the desire to project an 'Islamic' architecture in the folds of modernity.
Fanon describes a similar reaction with the term "negritudd"'
Eventually, and more recently, there is a kind of deconstruction of negritude and deeper
interest in return to specifics and particularities of "tradition". The search for the "right"
tradition, "authenticity" and a subjective "continuity". All the while there is a danger of fall-
ing into the trap of an inverted "orientalism"- one that binds the culture to primitivism and
stereotyping it, suspending it in time rather than allowing it to develop with all the
resources that are available to it and are its right to use.(For example: using architectural
elements and building techniques for the image of tradition, rather than for their appropri-
ateness, e.g., the romanticized rural vernacular in the urban context).
Much of KKM's architectural discourse and design is defined by what it is not and what
he rejects, as much as what it is. In his book "Architecture In Pakistan", KKM describes
1. See pg. 212. "The concept of negritude... was the emotional if not the logical antithesis of the insult which
the white man flung at humanity. "Fanon, F.; "On National Culture".The Wretched of the Earth, New York
1991 (1963).
architecture after independence from the British colonists, in a chapter of the same
name. This is the "style" of architecture the traditionalists unanimously reject.
KKM is trying to finesse the political impact of this discourse by suggesting a regionalism
rather than a nationalism. Suggesting a modern style that has references to the past, but
abstracting principles and using a typological approach. This is the resistance of the
intellectuals to the often reductive official approval of the State in the past (and present)
the "photo-shopping" that President Zia thought was a logical method for achieving great
architecture. As Suha Ozkan put it in "Regionalism with Modernism";
"It is very hard to talk about identity.... without going into regionalism". A
geographical region defines many aspects of a society both culturally
and environmentally..... Modernism, theory, its sub-theme of interna-
tionalism proclaims a universality and world-wide applicability of certain
values of architecture and over the past 60 years., almost totally discard
all the "regional" building activity. The schools of architecture, the build-
ing industry and popular "taste", all united in the reinforcement of inter-
nationalism until it became an ideology representing the aspirations of
all sections of the modern society. For more than half a century interna-
tionalism in style became synonymous with the representation of con-
temporaneity......The main critical moment as a reaction specifically to
internationalism or implicitly to modernism, is regionalism".1
1. Pg. 8, Suha Ozkan, "Regionalism with Modernism", in Regionalism in Architecture.
I feel, KKM shares his views in whole or part with a group of architects and intellectuals
who are concerned with, among other things; spiritual identity, and a return to tradition.
He is part of a growing body of what is being called "the Islamist Intellectual"
. The grow-
ing trend of asserting a Muslim identity should be carefully separated here between that
of Political Islam and Intellectual Islam. Looking specifically at the body of "Islamist intel-
lectuals" in Turkey, Meeker draws a portrait and writes:
"He argues instead that science and technology, as practised in the
West, contradict and are therefore incompatible with Islam. More
importantly, the Muslim intellectual is sensitive to any attempt to jus-
tify Islamic principles from the standpoint of a Western perspec-
Portraits and "typical" descriptions, have an essentialist element in them, and while there
are many parallels between Meeker's analysis and KKM, he does not fit snugly into this
portrait. Meeker does admit that generalizations are difficult after a point.
"Science and
technology, as practised in the West" is ambiguous, and KKM at no point "rejects sci-
ence". There are other differences, as well as similarities, but they will not be discussed
here further. The point of referring to Meeker's articles was to bring attention to the fact
there is such a thing as a growing discourse, on the international level, of Islamic intellec-
tuals. And that many of them have originally been trained or educated in the West and
are looking at religion, tradition and identity from a new direction.
1. Pg. 189. Meeker, Michael E., "The New Muslim Intellectual in the Republic of Turkey", in Islam in Mod-
ern Turkey- Religion, Politics and Lite aure in a Secular State, Richard Tapper, ed. I.B. Tauris and Co.
Ltd., London-New York, 1994
2. Pg. 190, Ibid.
3. Pg. 191, Ibid.
Some of these intellectuals prescribe to esoteric readings of religion and have written
extensively on Sufism. To put them in a 'group' is a totally arbitrary exercise, because
very often, while having been exposed to their work through the media, they may have
only met personally on formal occasions if at all. One of them is the architect Abdel
Wahid el-Wakil, whom KKM has met on various AKAA related seminars and events.
While he has never had a chance to discuss Wakil's views with him, KKM admires his
work.The ideas, phrases and issues are reiterated across many geo-political boundaries.
For example, about continuity, el-Wakil says:
"Change is intrinsic to all living organisms and institutions; but the
anchor of change is continuity safeguarded by tradition. Without this
safeguard change becomes not part of a cyclic progression, but a
kind of centrifugal violence that disrupts and fragments the arts, and
none more than architecture... Only through the reestablishment of
our spiritual identity can the dynamic and continuous process of
consolidation and reorganization be truly assured".1
This search for an architecture appropriate for Pakistan: responsive to climate, economy,
materials, yet rooted in the indigenous culture is problematic, specially when the agenda
shifts from the tangible (utilitarian, functional) to more abstract concepts such as "culture"
and "tradition". The problems within the discourse are evident in the following excerpt
from an interview:
4. See also: Toprak, Binaz, "Islamic Intellectuals: Revolt Agair -ndustry And Technology", in Turkey and
the West- Changing Political and Cultural Identities, Metin Heper, Ayse Oncu and Heinz Kramer eds.,
I.B. Tauris and Co. Ltd., London-New York, 1993
1. El-Wakil, Abdel Wahid; "Identity, Tradition and Architecture". Arab Architecture: Past and Present; ed.,
Antony Hutt, Center for Middle Eastern and Islamic Studies, University of Durham, 1983.
What has happened is that with the British rule the architectural pro-
fession has been cut from our own building traditions and in its place
we have imported what is new. It is not indigenous architectural pro-
fession, it is the Western model of the local professional architec-
ture. So, here we have had this radical departure, which we have
been going along with until recently. More and more architects are
beginning to feel the implications of what has happened and its like
trying to make up for lost time. We have realized that if we don't, the
continuity, the continuum in a culture will be severed. It is for that
reason and not for the sake of going back or for the sake of imitating
the past, or for going shopping in the past for architectural cause...
the intention is to re-establish our links with our own past. So that we
can move forward in a more meaningful way.
The key words here seem to be "own past", "own building traditions" and continuity. The
colonial past is the break in tradition. If that is somehow erased or ignored, or remedied,
one can go back and attach a new link to the broken chain, he seems to imply. In other
words- this architectural history seems to be viewed almost linearly rather than as a for-
ward moving lateral flow of ideas and images.
"Not all Muslim architecture is necessarily Islamic. This is often over-
looked both by those who recognize the reality of Islamic architec-
ture and try to explain all Muslim buildings as Islamic, and by those
1. Pg. 192, Architecture in Pakistan.
who, finding nothing Islamic in some Islamic buildings reject the
validity of an Islamic basis of architecture altogether".
He argues for the "rediscovery of the theoretical arts of the grand tradition".
In this, he is
joined by other intellectuals of the traditionalist school- Nader Ardalan, Titus Burkhardt,
Keith Critchlow, Seyyid Hossein Nasr, Martin Lings, Frithjof Schuon, who, he says, con-
tinue to be excellent sources of inspiration and guidance. Henry Corbin's Temple and
Contemplation, about the symbolism employed in the sacred sciences of colors, num-
bers, geometries etc., found in the vast body of Sufi literature, was "highly instructive",
for KKM. "Particularly how these sciences formed the bases of sacred art and architec-
ture, in communicating metaphysical concepts in the system of Islamic cosmology".
. In
the quest for 'continuity' he differentiates between heritage and tradition to explain why
the British colonial experience is the outsider, where as other invaders (Arabs, Mughals,
etc.) are not.
"First, we need to distinguish between heritage and tradition. Heri-
tage is all we have received from the past, including the British colo-
nial. Whereas tradition, not to be confused with convention, custom,
usage etc. has been defined (Schoun, Lings, Nasr et. al.) as those
forms, ideas, concepts, arts, crafts, myths, etc. which can be traced
to a divine source. Secondly the British colonial experience was dif-
ferent from previous invasions for one reason above all others: it
1. Pg. 192, Architecture in Pakistan.
2. Ibid.
3. KKM, Interview, Spring 1997 (via email)
4. Ibid.
coincided with the start o f the "modern" era. Modern technology
provided the means to dominate exploit and oppress at a scale
which was simply not possible before. But more important than the
political, military and economic effects of this confrontation was the
replacement of the traditional values, world view, systems of gover-
nance, justice, social relationships etc. with those of modernity. "1
Addressing the question of what part "Hindu architecture" plays in his view of this conti-
nuity- since it is politically rejected by the invented national identity- he says...
Of course Hinduism, including Hindu architecture is part of our "tra-
ditions", even though we do not recognize it as part of "our" tradi-
tions. On the esoteric plane, all the "genuine" religions are part of
the same tradition. We need not here go splitting hairs about what
"is" the Hindu religion. Indeed much of the forms, vocabulary, and
symbolism of Hindu and Buddhist architecture was/has been assim-
ilated into "'our" Islamic Architecture, just as, for instance, Indian lan-
guages, poetical and musical forms, and imagery were assimilated,
adopted, adapted, by "our" Sufi poets, dancers and musicians.
This explanation of tradition varies somewhat from the comments of Dr. Professor Vandal
where he stresses the need to study architectural tradition in Pakistan and "to carry it for-
1. Interview, January 1996, Lahore,
2. Ibid. See also Asani, Ali, "Sufi Poetry in the Folk Tradition of Indo-Pakistan", Religion and Literature 20,
(1988), Pp 81-94
ward", rather than "return to tradition", which, he cautions, would be "romantic and per-
haps reactionary"
. A similar view is expressed by Hasan-ud-din Khan, where he says
that, "It is impossible not to be influenced by international development and to base an
architecture strictly on a regional tradition.. .A nostalgic look at the past no longer entirely
appropriate to the universal elements of life- even in a developing country".
At the end of the arguments, are KKM's buildings which stand as testaments to his shift
in approach from a purely fundamental to one that incorporates traditional architecture.
In his projects, KKM has increasingly incorporated the traditional arts and crafts. Having
found the right clients (or is it the other way around?). In the 1994 Seminar on Contem-
porary Architecture in Pakistan, he quipped: "Ethnic, my dear, is IN!".
Due to this "ethnic
revival", there arose a limited opportunity to revive dying crafts- fresco work, wood carv-
ing, etc. and traditional building techniques such as "pukka kali" (lime plastering), which
he incorporated in his designs all the while reiterating the need to employ latest technol-
ogy wherever appropriate.
It is interesting to note, however, that like all architectural movements or discourses, this
too has become stylized in Pakistan. Architects who build in brick and use it decoratively
are lumped together.
And that has been the case of codification of theory; whether it is
the Modern Movement, Post-modernism, or deconstruction. Any houses with brick fac-
1. Pg. 51, Dr.M. Perv'-z Vandal; "Learning From Legacy", Habitat Pakistan #14
2. Pg. 293, Khan, H tnnudin; "Architectural Education: Learning from Developing Countries", in Space
For Freedom.
3. Pg. 116, Ansari, Z.; "Ethnic Furniture: a chip off the old block", article exploring a growing trend and
popularity of traditional furniture and crafts published in Newsline, September 1994,
4. This includes the practice of architects Sajida and Pervaiz Vandal in Lahore.
ing, decoration and certain architectural elements are also viewed as a "style" in popular
architecture, where the motivating factor or approach to design may have been vastly dif-
ferent. Some view it as a creative stepping stone, others as a logical solution based on
economics and climatic reasons. Yet others for its inherent spiritual values or as a combi-
nation of these factors.
KKM is conscious of the danger of the pastiche trap., and has criticized the tendency on
many occasions. He justifies the application of decoration, the use of traditional building
techniques and planning as a continuing search for underlying principles. However, while
he is certainly not responsible for the interpretation of his work by blind image-making fol-
lowers, or by the popular stream as a fad, it is obvious that this is happening for better or
for worse. There seems to be a notion amongst lay people that KKM belongs to a group
of architects who design traditional looking buildings with brick facades. They fail to rec-
ognize that his sensitivity of using brick, as appropriate technology for the region rather
than as decoration. His sensitivity is explicit not only in the use of imaginative details to
support air-conditioners which are becoming a neccesity of living in a hot temperate cli-
mate; but also when he designs buildings which have structural system that capitalize on
bricks, for e.g., he has use brick corbelling to support arches (Ghazala Rehman's Resi-
dence, Fig. 2) and vaults. Vaults, in turn allow a greater ceiling height and are used as a
climatic strategy.
Probably the message of "artpropriate technology" will be communicated more coher-
ently to students of the planned Building Arts School (whenever it is built). The perplex-
ing search for, and invention of identity in Pakistani architecture, will at the very least get
a direction.
KKM's work is a synthesis of his background, education and re-education, his culture
and values and search for a meaningful architecture that draws on, but is not restricted to
heritage and tradition, and is open to technical innovation. However it is a thin line to
tread. The resulting architecture is always a reflection of the clients and their aspirations,
or the nature of the project, besides the agenda of the architect. One project which exem-
plifies the problem, and at the same time challenges a judgement of it due to its very
nature, is the Lok Virsa Folk Heritage Museum, Islamabad.
The museum was a "drab PWD (Public Works Department) shed"' and the museum
director, Mr. Uksi Mufti, approached KKM to improve the facades. KKM suggested a life-
sized exhibit of traditional urban domestic architecture from all the different regions of
Pakistan covering the existing facades, after a systematic survey, documentation and
analysis of each region to identify typologies, materials, construction techniques and
craftsmen etc. resulting in a definitive monograph to accompany each facade. Since
funds were not available to do that, KKM was asked to do one region as a pilot project,
on the basis of which they could raise the necessary funds for the full scale project. The
only region on which there was some available data was Lahore, and the result was "four
Lahori type facades'
1. KKM, Interview via internet, Spring 1997
2. Ibid.
The contrast between two recent projects the Lok Virsa Museum facades and Shahid
Karim residence is stark. (see FIg. 1 and 2, this chapter)
While the synthesis is evident in the residential project, Lok Vlrsa, a modern day "Hawa
, leaves us with a new problematic on how to evaluate KKM's work and the level
of synthesis in it. At the same time, the project is defended and perhaps saved, by its
very requirements, and with these words by Kamil Khan Mumtaz:
"Of course it is the very nature of the project which resulted in these
"stick-on" facades. Remember: we are looking here at a museum of
folk heritage, and what we "facilitated" rather than designed, was a
museum exhibit of and by a living craft tradition. There is no ques-
tion of "nostalgia", this is the present we're in. All we have done is to
draw attention to the fact that this tradition is alive, it is still "the" tra-
dition for a whole category of buildings, after all Bhong Mosque was
a product of the same tradition... the context for us in the "east" is
defined by the traditional philosophies. God and metaphysical reality
is not dead. Our problem, as architects, then, is to find the appropri-
ate response to this "real" context, rather than follow the tendency to
"paste" on nostalgic images of a mythical "modernity".'
1. Hawa Mahal= Palace of WInds; referring to the Hawa Mahal. a palace facade in Jaipur. India.
2. Ibid.
Fig. 1:Lok Virsa Folk Heritage Museum, Islamabad, 1995.
Fig. 2: Shahid Karim Residence, Model Town, Lahore, 1994 im Residence, Model Town, Lahore, 1994
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6 Illustration Credits
Fig. 1 p. 30: Wapda House, Lahore.
Source: Architecture in Pakistan, p.
Fig. 2 p. 30: Presidency Complex, Islamabad.
Source: Architecture in Pakistan, p.
Fig. 2 p. 34: Hassan Fathy, Drawing for a House
Source: Richards, J. M., Hassan Fathy Concept Media, Singapore,
Architectural Press, 1985. Jacket cover.
All other slides used are property of the author.
All drawings and illustrations were kindly provided by the office of Kamil Khan
Mumtaz,18-A Mian Mir Road, Lahore, Pakistan.