Pakistan is plagued by historic floods. Floods and landslides have forced millions of people from their homes. Many people have lost their homes and have nowhere to live. More than 1 million tents are needed to provide shelter for people. The problem is that there is a shortage of tents and they are not durable enough. A solution appeared that could help effectively.

Low cost houses that are easy to build

Pakistan’s first female architect designs disaster housing. Yasmeen Lari is now 81 years old and co-founder of the non-profit organization Heritage Foundation of Pakistan. He designs shelters that are easy and cheap to build. These shelters can also be easily dismantled and moved to another location. The same construction can be used for houses with a permanent structure. Lari designed elegant and modern buildings made of glass and steel. After the catastrophic earthquake in 2005, she started helping with rebuilding and began to focus on the materials poor people build with. She started experimenting with bamboo in particular because it is cheap and easily available.

One of the bambooo villages.

Homes that can withstand floods

She started building some sample structures, and after another major flood in 2010, began working with residents to build thousands of bamboo shelters. Some buildings were built on stilts to withstand floods. Most of the buildings survived the flood. At a site that Lari calls the Zero-Carbon Campus, she trains female artisans to build bamboo shelters. The prefabricated versions of the houses consist of bamboo panels that can be joined together with the help of a rope.

At the beginning of the summer, a group of 6 craftsmen managed to build a village that has 100 houses. All these houses survived the floods. The goal is for these artisans to train other people. “My artisans, who are my best entrepreneurs, will now teach other artisans from surrounding villages to be able to go back and build your own unit,” she says. “If I can disperse it all over the country, we can make hundreds of these a day.”

There are also public workshops showing the construction of a bamboo house.

Instructions for building a house

The houses are one-room structures that are 12×12 feet in size. there is enough space for 5 people. Lari called this design “OctaGreen”. The walls are covered with hand-woven reed mats. A video has been posted on YouTube that describes in detail how to build the structure. It can be easily disassembled and moved to any place.

Flood victims are needed to help with construction

A large number of people cannot wait for help, it is important that whole families are involved in the construction. The organization tries to provide people with building supplies that are needed to build a house. According to Lari, it is important that the architecture takes into account that heavier rains and floods may come.

Governments have to better prepare for future disasters, she says. “All countries have got to now really just prepare for disaster,” she says. “Everywhere it’s happening. It’s not only Pakistan. Climate change is a reality.” These buildings can be an inspiration for other countries that suffer from natural disasters.


Image credit:
Courtesy Heritage Foundation of Pakistan
Yasmeen Lari
Yasmeen Lari’s Zero Carbon Channel