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Jashn-e-Mimaar [Celebrating Architects and Architecture] IAPEX 2019 Islamabad

Contributors | Ar. Saman Tariq (AIAP), Ar. Sanam Ehsan, Ar. Bushra Mansoor
Photography | Muaz Ali

DAY 1: FRIDAY, 15TH MARCH

The Institute of Architects Pakistan Rawalpindi-Islamabad Chapter held the opening ceremony of IAPEX 2019 – building material and products exhibition at Tulip Marquee Islamabad on Friday 15th March 2019. Scheduled from 15th to 17th March, this three-day mega event was based on the theme ‘Jashn-e-Mimaar’ and aimed at celebrating the extensive roles of architects in shaping their built environment through a series of activities comprising of an expo, forum, architects’ portfolio exhibition, design competition and photography exhibition. Moreover, it tried to channel ways of increasing collaboration between key stakeholders of the building industry such as architecture students, practicing architects, academic researchers, real-estate developers, government officials and the general public.

The function was inaugurated with a formal ribbon-cutting ceremony by chief guest Mr Naeem Ul Haq, Special Adviser to the Prime Minister. Following the formal opening, the chief guest visited the exhibition where a number of items were on display. Mr Naeem ul Haq appreciated the efforts of the IAP-RIC chapter and promised to look into the request of IAP President Ar. Arif Changezi regarding the establishment of an IAP house in Islamabad. Considering the fact that IAP houses are present in both Karachi and Lahore already, he stated that Islamabad would soon have its own house and requested IAP-RIC nominate land options to the government for the IAP-Islamabad house. This was one of the most significant achievements of Jashn-Mimaar, where architects and their contributions were recognized by allotting them a platform to present themselves.

He also recognized the local firms and their expertise in the construction industry. More than 35 leading brands of the building industry had displayed their materials and products, such as Brighto Paints, who were the main sponsors of the event. New product displays by ZRK, who were the expo sponsors, and co-sponsors like Kale, Master Tiles and Master Offisys were also exhibited. Apart from this, the exhibition also showcased works of 22 architecture firms of Islamabad and Rawalpindi to appreciate the efforts of both young and experienced architects and to provide an insight into the evolving architecture trends in Pakistan. Moreover, the City Transect Competition display highlighted the stark difference between the urban outlook of the twin-cities (one being a planned city while the other has grown organically). The contrasting visuals showed how effective urban design could help create pleasant urban neighborhoods. Similarly, the Heritage Walk 2.0 Photography Display also featured and appreciated the rich architectural legacy hidden in the narrow and winding streets of Raja Bazaar.

As the event moved forward, speeches from key personnel in the architecture community began. Welcoming a large audience of architects, engineers and other related professionals, including the general public, the President of the IAP Ar. Muhammad Arif Changezi appreciated that the event offered a diverse platform for students, professionals and academics to interact and exchange their perspective for a better future. The chairman IAP-RIC Ar. Faisal Arshad thanked all event organizers for putting endless efforts into bringing about a successful show. He reiterated the role of exhibitors and sponsors of the event in shaping up the quality of the event more vibrantly than in all previous years. Chairman Chapter also engaged the audience in an interactive session where he highlighted how such opportunities tended to create room for growth and innovation. The Chief Convener IAP-RIC Ar. Rana Atif Rehman also acknowledged the efforts of everyone involved, including the President IAP, Chairman IAP, IAP Executive Committee, organizers, volunteers and event sponsors. He also shared his thoughts on the year’s IAPEX theme and its potential for bringing goodwill to the building industry in Pakistan.

DAY 2: SATURDAY, 16TH MARCH

The IAP-RIC Exhibition kicked off on its second day in Tulip Hall with the same zest as on the inauguration the day before. The building materials exhibition continued but the main events scheduled were interactive talks and discourse amongst the architectural community, the real estate industry and the general public. Guests arrived, including but not limited to the Chief Guest and Keynote Speaker Architect Dr. Rasem Badran, President IAP Ar. Arif Changezi, Chairman IAP-RIC Ar. Faisal Arshad, Past Arcasia President Ar. Jehangir Khan Sherpao, Past Chairman IAP-RIC Ar. Kabeer Malik, PCATP Chairman Ar. Kalim Siddiqi and various other senior and junior members of the architectural community, as well as numerous students from the architecture schools in Islamabad and Rawalpindi etc. The event started with the customary recitation of the Holy Quran and the singing of the national anthem.

The first item on the agenda, City Transect Competition: Display and Winner Announcement was introduced by Convener Competitions Ar. Abdul Ali Khan. The competition was open to registered architects under 30, as well as architecture students. The theme was to celebrate the diversity of the architectural language in the twin cities by cutting a section from amongst a few selected sites. The contrasting visuals showed the how effective urban design could help create pleasant urban neighborhoods. The jury members, Ar. Salman Mansoor, Ar. Kabeer Malik and Ar. Fouzia Asad selected students from COMSATS (Hira, Asad Mustafa and Sameen Rizwan) for the first prize for analyzing and presenting major features of the built environment and its context in detailed clarity. President IAP Ar. Muhammad Arif Changezi, Chairman IAP-RIC Ar. Faisal Arshad and Guest Speaker Dr. Rasem Badran awarded the prize money to the winning team.

This session was followed by the Forum, in which architects Zehra Aziz, Mahwish Ghulam Rasool and Waqar Aziz presented their papers on various urban approaches. Ar. Zehra Aziz led, with a presentation on her tea collaborative with an architect, a designer and a performance artist called ‘Brewing the City’. The Tea Collaborative’s aim was to mark sites in the city that had had a change in their identity or use by something as vital yet inane as a group of people drinking tea. It created anomalies in sites and left a certain residue. By taking a script out, it became just a scene which disrupted reality and our perception. It was an experiment to contrast the chaos of a public space with the stillness of drinking tea. It was a gesture to take ownership of a public space, to make it accessible once more and to take responsibility for it. The sites they had selected ranged from the intimacy of a private apartment to the D-Chowk a few days after a protest.

Ar. Waqar Aziz followed his presentation on Poro-City. It was a three-part sketch of an idea to explore the economic analysis of production of things on the city. He proposed a change in direction instead, towards porosity as advocacy to change urban life. He suggested that capitalism drove urban life. Even as architects, we tend to design only to generate new ways of spending money, and that leads to a sense of discomfort and inequality. The culmination of this talk was the proposal to change our personal perspective, to bring a degree of porosity in our lives. This could be done by examining our surroundings and opening up little pockets wherever possible, to allow thoughts of others in, to be able to produce any meaningful development. Instead of just talking about it, it would be better to follow an affirmative and performative approach.

Mahwish K. Ghulam Rasool presented her time and experiences in a summer school program in Italy, which led her to writing ‘Cases of Matera Sassi, Italy’. She showed examples of Alberobello, a heritage site whose infrastructure can and was being used and adapted today into contemporary use.

Following this was the highlight of the day, the keynote presentation by Aga Khan Award recipient Ar. Dr. Rasem Badran. Dr. Rasem Badran’s illustrious slidercareer has spanned decades and comprises of major built works mostly in the Arab world as well as competitions, all centering around the theme of continuous dialogue between man and nature and dialogue between the static and the dynamic. He is a master story-teller, expertly weaving identity, culture and his own style into an authentic vision. His style incorporates a deep respect for the traditional and vernacular and then translation into a contemporary design language. The work he showed ranged across the board from the Maspero Triangle Rehabilitation competition to the Sana’a Housing project and some local project proposals as well, such as the Civic Centre in Karachi, Pakistan. The Grand Mosque of Riyadh and redevelopment of Riyadh Old City Centre is a well-known project of his that won the Aga Khan Award, but his Bujairi development project was another major milestone in his career, popular with the public as well as the architectural community (nominated for the Aga Khan Award). He burrowed the architecture underground, facing the historical mud city. The slanted roof became an urban plaza, transforming the site. His lecture ended on a beautiful personal note in answer to a question. Being of Palestinian descent but living in Jordan, he said he was eternally trying to find home or ‘watan’ in his work.

Post lunch the session ‘City Authority and Developers’ Role in Cityscape’ was introduced. The founder of Graana Group of companies, Mr. Shafiq Akbar, presented his vision of the city and presented his express way vision 2030. He stressed upon how real estate development was directly related to economic development, which can help provide stability and prosperity. This session was then followed by a panel discussion about the next stage of the Islamabad master plan with Ar. Waqar Aziz as moderator. The panel included representatives from different sectors and included Ar. Jehangir Sherpao, Ar. Shuja, Ar. Ibtisam and real-estate developer Mr. Shafiq Akbar. Points of interest were the Prime Minister’s 5 million homes initiative, CPEC and the development of our natural resources. The discussion also focused on the future of urban development patterns in Islamabad and Rawalpindi. The architects in the panel majorly looked into ways to add a cultural and social aspect to this development pattern. They also stressed on revising the planning policies to accommodate the growing needs of urban communities. The last session of the event featured guest speaker Mr. Jawad Tariq, who focused on E-commerce as a way for effective profiling for architects. He introduced the benefits of using social media platforms in marketing and promotion of products for addressing the needs of consumers round the clock. The next speaker Mr. Irfan Zafar, the country manager of Autodesk in Pakistan, presented the technological features and uses of Building Information Modelling (BIM). He focused on how a new and upcoming software in the building industry in Pakistan could help plan and design efficiently, save time, enhance work accuracy and limit design and construction failures.

DAY 3: SUNDAY, 17TH MARCH

Day 3 began with a formal vendor’s appreciation ceremony where all the participant brands and their representatives were praised for their contributions and dedications. The ceremony started with engaging presentations from different participant companies and was solely dedicated to valued and trusted vendors, starting with Brighto Paints who were the main event sponsors, the expo sponsors ZRK Group, Kale, Master Tiles, Master Offisys as the co-sponsors and many others.

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