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Yasmeen Lari and Beatriz Colomina announced the winners of the Jane Drew and Ada Louise Huxtable Prizes 2020

Pakistani architect Yasmeen Lari and Spanish-American critic and historian Beatriz Colomina have been recognised by this year’s W Awards 

Drew huxtable index

Drew huxtable index

Left: Yasmeen Lari on site at the Disaster Risk Reduction Centre, courtesy of the Heritage Foundation of Pakistan; Right: Beatriz Colomina interviews James Taylor-Foster at the Venice Architecture Biennale 2018, photo by Jürgen Mayer H

Pakistan’s first female architect, Yasmeen Lari has been awarded the Jane Drew Prize 2020, an award recognising an architectural designer who, through their work and commitment to design excellence, has raised the profile of women in architecture.

Born in Dera Ghazi Khan in Pakistan, Yasmeen Lari spent some years in Lahore before moving to London with her family at the age of 15. She studied at Oxford Brookes School of Architecture, graduating in 1964 and moving back to Pakistan to open her practice in Karachi. She designed the Anguri Bagh housing project in Lahore in 1973 and Lines Area Resettlement in 1980, a complex of self-built, incremental housing for the residents of the largest informal settlement spread over more than 200 acres in Karachi.

Lari made her name in the 1980s with landmark buildings in Karachi, including the Finance and Trade Centre (1983-89), developed in consultation with the Canadian architect Eva Vecsei, and Pakistan State Oil House (1985-91). She formally retired in 2000, becoming UNESCO’s national adviser for World Heritage Lahore Fort in 2003, but when an earthquake hit the Northern Areas of Pakistan in 2005, Lari turned to strategies of rehabilitation, instituting self-financing models that helped survivors rebuild without government assistance. 

Zero carbon cultural centre makli 2015 19 yasmeen lari zc3 aerial view

Zero carbon cultural centre makli 2015 19 yasmeen lari zc3 aerial view

Yasmeen Lari’s Zero-carbon Cultural Centre, Makli, 2015-19. Courtesy of the Heritage Foundation of Pakistan

Lari started working in bamboo in 2007, providing community kitchens to refugees of the conflict in Swat in Khyber Pakhtunkhwa province, continuing in 2010 when floods hit the Khyber Pakhtunkhwa and Sindh provinces, to build community centres on stilts that allowed flood waters to flow underneath. ‘Barefoot architecture’ – architecture that treads lightly upon the planet – is the basis of this work, aiming to provide environmentally sustainable and participative solutions to lift up marginalised communities. You can read more about Yasmeen Lari’s work in Shanaz Ramzi’s Retrospective here.

‘I am touched and humbled to be included among the galaxy of architects who have received this prize,’ Lari commented. Named after Jane Drew, a spirited advocate for women in a male-dominated profession, previous winners of the awards include Elizabeth Diller, Amanda Levete, Denise Scott Brown, Odile Decq, Grafton Architects’ founders Yvonne Farrell and Shelley McNamara, Zaha Hadid, Kathryn Findlay of Ushida Findlay and Eva Jiřičná.

Yasmeen Lari and Beatriz Colomina will both be speaking at the AJ/AR W Lunch at Battersea Arts Centre in London on Friday 6 March, where the winners of the Moira Gemmill Prize for Emerging Architecture and the MJ Long Prize for Excellence in Practice will be announced – click here to view the shortlists, and here to book your seat at the event

Architectural historian and theorist Beatriz Colomina is the winner of the Ada Louise Huxtable Prize for Contribution to Architecture 2020, which recognises individuals working in the wider architectural industry who have made a significant contribution to architecture and the built environment.

Colomina is from Madrid, Spain, starting her studies of the Escola Técnica Superior de Arquitectura de Valencia before moving to the school of the same name in Barcelona, where she studied under teachers that included Josep Quetglas and Ignasi de Solà-Morales. She began working for the Department of History, Theory and Urbanism, and moved to the USA in 1981 with a fellowship at the New York Institute for the Humanities. She then moved to Columbia University, followed by Princeton in 1988, where she is now Howard Crosby Butler Professor of the History of Architecture.

‘Ada Louise Huxtable was a real force in architecture and I am very honoured to receive this award’

She published Sexuality & Space in 1993, a collection of essays that included her own writing as well as texts by Elizabeth Grosz, Laura Mulvey, Victor Burgin and Mark Wigley. The book was awarded the 1993 International Book Award by the AIA – an award also bestowed in 1995 to her book Privacy and Publicity. Her research covers multiple disciplines, writing across architecture, art, technology, sexuality and media, disseminated both in her teaching and through international exhibitions. These include Clip/Stamp/Fold (2006), Playboy Architecture (2012) and Radical Pedagogies (2014). Her most recent pubication is X-Ray Architecture, published by Lars Müller in 2019.

Colomina was also the chief curator of Curated by Vienna: The Century of the Bed, a show involving a network of 22 art galleries in Vienna in 2014 and co-curator of the third Istanbul Design Biennial (2016) on the theme Are We Human? The Design of the Species. She has also contributed to the pages of the AR – you can read her piece on what we do in bed here, or her contribution to AR 120 on Education here.

‘Ada Louise Huxtable was a real force in architecture and I am very honoured to receive this award,’ Colomina responded. Huxtable, the Prize’s namesake, made history by being the first full-time architecture critic at a US newspaper when she joined the New York Times, and was later awarded the first Pulitzer Prize for Criticism in 1970. Photographer Hélène Binet, artist and illustrator Madelon Vriesendorp, sculptor Rachel Whiteread, curator Julia Peyton-Jones and client and architectural patron Jane Priestman are previous recipients of the accolade.

Radical pedagogies 2

Radical pedagogies 2

The opening of Radical Pedagogies, an exhibition curated by Colomina at the Venice Biennale, 2014. Courtesy of Beatriz Colomina / Biennale di Venezia

The W Awards, in association with The Architectural Review and the Architects’ Journal, look to inspire change in the architectural profession by celebrating great design by women architects from around the world and promoting role models for young women in practice.