Understanding Localness of Built Form at the Urban Scale: Case of Karachi, Pakistan

Suneela Ahmed (1)
(1) Department of Architecture and Planning, NED University of Engineering and Technology, Karachi, Pakistan, Pakistan


Many cities in the developing world aspire to imitate cities of the West in their built form, since for them this represents ‘modernism’ and the future. Pakistan is a young country and the contribution of a new generation of architects and planners has been inspired by the West, in the post-modern traditions; and not informed by the local cultural, social, and physical aspects of the society. Karachi, within Pakistan, has recently seen the construction of a number of buildings and urban design projects that conform to the international concepts of entrepreneurship and innovation and are a response to the desire of politicians to create a global image for the city.
Using the Urdu word maqamiat in relation to the built form, this research assesses what it means for a city to be local in the context of Karachi, being specific, having particular variables impacting the built form, but dealing with similar issues of identity crises as other formally colonized nations. A combination of deductive and inductive research approach that arches over mixed methods is used in order to reveal the nature and value of maqamiat in the built form.
Semi structured interviews, focus groups, urban morphological documentation, archive review, and personal observation methods have been used for data collecting. Content, narrative, and focus group analyses are used to interpret data. This research is part of a PhD that was undertaken at Oxford Brookes University from 2012- 2016. The research postulates lessons from its study of local processes of built form production about the value given to local places by indigenous communities and the impact of global forces through image ability, aesthetics, and style.

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Suneela Ahmed
[email protected] (Primary Contact)
Ahmed, S. (2017). Understanding Localness of Built Form at the Urban Scale: Case of Karachi, Pakistan. Environmental Science & Sustainable Development, 2(1), 39–51. https://doi.org/10.21625/essd.v2i1.87

Article Details

Received 2017-06-29
Accepted 2017-06-29
Published 2017-06-30