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Stone art: Concrete expression

July 18, 2010

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Nadeem-ul-Hasan, a much sought after architect and interior designer of Karachi, has permanently carved Pakistan's name on the monolith of international architecture by winning the prestigious World Architecture Award. He heads a multi-disciplinary consulting architectural firm, which was formed in 2001 with an aim to provide comprehensive architectural and interior design services.

He received the award for designing the head office of a pharmaceutical company that produces critical life saving drugs for ailments such as cancer, hepatitis etc. Hasan developed a captivating concept for the building which is based around the phrase “water is the source and plants are the expression of life”.

A talented graduate of the National College of Arts, Hasan was one of the few who chose to practice on home ground. In 1993, when most of his colleagues migrated swiftly to Australia, Canada, USA and particularly to Dubai to join the rampant iron-and-concrete marathon, this die-hard purist chose to stay back, saying that no matter how well one works abroad, one cannot truly relate with foreign cultures. Thus the decision to remain attached to his roots became a catalyst that honed his ability to conjure original solutions in the prevalent complex environment.

Hasan practices architecture as a pertinent and reactive medium that accommodates significant design while integrating the practical constraints of clients, construction, finances and building standards into distinctive and vibrant design solutions.

According to him, designing and constructing form, space and ambience that reflect functional, technical and aesthetic considerations, is what we can term as architecture. It necessitates innovative exploitation and harmonisation of material, technology, light and shadow. Hasan designs his buildings and interiors based on core functions of the project. His design philosophy involves detailed performance analysis of a project's parameters that focuses on the interlinked relationships between the project schedule and sequence of activities. His objective is to understand these interdependent issues as dynamic relationships through a set of drawings that culminate into a feasible design proposition, which becomes the basis for the project's design. He endeavours to develop the final designs concomitantly in two dimensions and three dimensions, allowing development of design of a comprehensive project.

An unconventional design target rather than a formal one allows Hasan significant freedom during the design, construction, and engineering evaluation phase. He then adjusts the formal articulation, massing and materials of the project without impairing the design target. During this gruelling process, he also maintains relationships and obligations within the programme. As a consequence of his intrinsic acumen for design, Hasan has also had an honourable mention in the Institute of Architects, Pakistan Awards for Design Excellence 2009, in an interior design project.

The creative process, in Hasan's opinion, is a synergistic one that fully engages the team members from the point of its inception. It begins with the definition and understanding of project objectives and clients' values. An innovative response to these parameters is the key to developing a pragmatic design. Factual deliberation with clients in the light of logical alternatives results in a distilled solution that is pristine, ergonomic, economically viable, and conducive to comfortable work and innovation.

In response to another question, Hasan believes that Pakistani architecture, which presently is in a state of morphing frenzy, will eventually crystallise into an original genre with a regional identity. The growing awareness of design functionality amongst clients is beginning to make them yearn for avant-garde living. With some brilliant architects out there in the market, the future definitely guarantees innovative designs that relate fully with the environment and user needs.

Evidently, the remnants of architectural creations serve as references to construe the customs of past civilizations. Therefore, architects shoulder the vital responsibility of documenting the prevalent culture in enduring materials and lasting beauty to be befittingly referred to as works of art. Fortunately, there are a few good architects in the local circuit who work with conviction to achieve worthy structures of historical significance!