for its first participation at the venice architecture biennale, the pakistan pavilion takes its cues from the physical and social dimensions of the sparsely open spaces found within the informal settlements of karachi, the country’s largest and most dense city. embedded with ideas of limitation and interdependence, the pavilion echoes the tangible and intangible qualities of those settlements, inviting visitors to comprehend FREESPACE as a consequence of unity, mutuality and harmony.


located in the levante section of the gardens of marinaressa
pavilion images by mustafa mehdi

 

 

sitting in the levante section of the gardens of marinaressa, venice, the pavilion appears as an elusive volume composed of a series of unevenly spaced verticals enclosing a constricted space within. these verticals represent the multiplicity, density and irregularity evident in the informal settlements of the city, while the use of steel is indicative of the harsh physical reality of these settlements. serving as the financial and industrial center of the country, karachi has long attracted people from all parts of pakistan in search of employment opportunities, and has welcomed migrants from near-by countries facing conflict and economic deprivation. today, over 60% of the city’s population resides in informal settlements, where the only open spaces that remain are the narrow corridors trapped between endless layers of buildings. receiving only fractured light, these corridors occasionally open into slightly wider pockets of space, yet, despite the harsh conditions these open spaces remain full of life and vitality, not only functioning as thoroughfares, but serving as vibrant arenas for interaction, dissemination of information, exchange of ideas, and even play.


intersecting axes supported by the layer of unevenly spaced verticals

 

 

titled ‘the fold’, pakistan’s pavilion is purposefully placed in an outdoor public space in efforts to form a dialogue between the traditional and antithetical public domains. the subtle tapering of the profile against the sky symbolizes the tendency of the karachi settlements to rise in synchronization. inside, two axes and six objects articulate the space, engaging visitors both physically and intellectually with four swings suspended from the two strategically placed axes, that are encouraging visitors to swing freely. similarly, a pair of benches invite visitors to pause and reflect, but only with two persons sitting on either ends. in the pavilion, FREESPACE is interpreted as a democratic space, one that is a consequence of shared aims and values within a restrictive physicality.


strategically placed swings


coordinate and swing away


activated by mutual understanding


confined yet liberating


regulated and unregulated development patterns of karachi
google earth image


karachi, pakistan’s most populated city with a population of over 20 million people
photo by sakina hassan 


Physical reality of the informal settlements of Karachi
photo by sakina hassan 


avenues of life and vitality
photo by sakina hassan 


design and curatorial team
photo by sakina hassan 


projected plan of the pavilion
image by coalesce design studio

 

 

 

pavilion info:

 

design and curatorial team: architects bilal kapadia, mustafa mehdi and salman jawed of the karachi-based multidisciplinary design practice coalesce design studio, assistant professors durreshahwar alvi and sami chohan (curator) from the department of architecture, indus valley school of art and architecture, and zeba asad, a student of architecture at the indus valley school of art and architecture

 

commissioner: asad i. khan, chairperson of the pakistan council of architects and town planners

 

the pavilion is supported by the global art affairs foundation, european cultural centre, coalesce design studio and antidote art & design. pakistan’s first-ever participation was enabled by khaadi and international industries limited

 

 

designboom has received this project from our ‘DIY submissions‘ feature, where we welcome our readers to submit their own work for publication. see more project submissions from our readers here.

 

edited by: sofia lekka angelopoulou | designboom

    have something to add? share your thoughts in our comments section below.

    comments policy
    LOG IN
    designboom's comment policy guidelines
    generally speaking, if we publish something, it's because we're genuinely interested in the subject. we hope you'll share this interest and if you know even more about it, please share! our goal in the discussion threads is to have good conversation and we prefer constructive opinions. we and our readers have fun with entertaining ones. designboom welcomes alerts about typos, incorrect names, and the like.
    the correction is at the discretion of the post editor and may not happen immediately.

    what if you disagree with what we or another commenter has to say?
    let's hear it! but please understand that offensive, inappropriate, or just plain annoying comments may be deleted or shortened.

    - please do not make racist, sexist, anti-semitic, homophobic or otherwise offensive comments.
    - please don't personally insult the writers or your fellow commenters.
    - please avoid using offensive words, replacing a few letters with asterisks is not a valid workaround.
    - please don't include your website or e-mail address in your comments for the purpose of self-promotion.
    - please respect jury verdicts and do not discuss offensively on the competition results
    (there is only one fist prize, and designboom usually asks renown professionals to help us to promote talent.
    in addition to the awarded designs, we do feel that almost all deserve our attention, that is why we publish
    the best 100-200 entries too.)

    a link is allowed in comments as long as they add value in the form of information, images, humor, etc. (links to the front page of your personal blog or website are not okay). unwelcome links (to commercial products or services of others, offensive material etc. ) will be redacted. and, ... yes, spam gets banned. no, we do not post fake comments.

    PRODUCT LIBRARY

    a diverse digital database that acts as a valuable guide in gaining insight and information about a product directly from the manufacturer, and serves as a rich reference point in developing a project or scheme.

    architecture news