Sadiq & Polack


2013 - 2021
Karachi Form Distance Karachi Form Distance
TYPE: Urban Design / Academics
LOCATION: Karachi, Pakistan
YEAR: 2013 – 2021
ARCHITECTS: Ar. Asiya Sadiq Polack
COLLABORATORS: Ar. Martine De Maeseneer – Vice Dean Internationalization – Faculty of Architecture-KULeuven- Campus Brussels Students International Masters – Karachi Studio – Faculty of Architecture-KULeuven- Campus Brussels Batches 2013 -14, 2014-15, 2015-16, 2016-17, 2018-19, 2019-2020, 2020-21 Ar. Mahishini Vasudevan and Ar. Ragesh Gopal “Exposition Karachi” in April 2021. The Exposition is supported by the Urban Cultures Engagement, The Faculty of Architecture, KU Leuven – Campus Brussels and the PhD Research Project of Asiya Sadiq.
STATUS: Completed
DISCLAIMER: The graphics used in this project have been produced by the various students teams who participated in the Karachi Studio 2013 to 2021.

The title above is a reflection on the 2-decade long design and research journey of Asiya Sadiq with regards to Karachi. With her personal and professional roots in Karachi, she started exploring her context from a design research perspective first as an architectural student and later as a design / research practitioner and academic. The journey has been fascinating and has informed her practice as an architect / urbanist.

The contextually situated perspective underwent a change when she moved to Belgium in 2012 and started teaching about Karachi from a distance. It gave a new perspective to her own design thinking and she realized that the wealth of knowledge she had gained from her hyper transforming city needed to be kept updated constantly and shared with others in Belgium especially her students.

This led to the beginning of the Karachi Studio. The first studio was initiated in 2013 by Asiya Sadiq in collaboration with her colleague Martine DeMaesener at the Faculty of Architecture, KULeuven , Campus Brussels. This studio was established with the intention of developing a specialized studio exploring the, ”Emerging Design Challenges of Contemporary Hyper Transforming Asian Cities”. The studio has completed 06 cycles in the academic year 2020-21. Over the 07 cycles it has introduced the International Masters Students at the Faculty to the architectural and urban specificity of the Asian Context and the making of appropriate contemporary architecture.

This shift from teaching case based, “Situated Karachi Studios” at DAP-NEDUET to “Remote Karachi Studios” at KULeuven helped point out critical contemporary design challenges and future trends in keeping with the Sustainable Development Goals of the UN, national and local governments and concerned stakeholders in Karachi. The process was facilitated by the presence of experts and stakeholders from Karachi and Belgium, peer inputs, digital means of research and the archives and knowledge of Asiya Sadiq, her colleagues and the teams of International students who followed the process by their respective home experiences. The studio, as always in her practice, was tied in with rigorous multidisciplinary research and practice modes.

The accumulated studio results will be displayed in a thematic “Karachi Exposition – KARACHI FROM A DISTANCE – A NEW PERSPECTIVE” at the Faculty – Campus Brussels in April 2021. The exposition of the chosen works of the 6 Karachi studios is foreseen to disseminate the knowledge produced and draw out the; intricacies, complexities, and contextual realities of designing and executing in fast transforming contexts like Karachi.

The exposition aspires to raise awareness, sensitize, and add to the knowledge on current and pertinent architectural and urban design issues faced by Asian Mega cities like Karachi. Case Karachi provides a basis of researching and testing challenges of fast changing urban cultures, ranging from over population, aspiring masses of youth, emerging middle classes and new lifestyles, empowered poor and crumbling governance operating within a formal-informal milieu.

The student projects have dealt with the emerging design issues of; formal-informal housing, revival of passive design strategies in the face of climate change and energy crisis, increasing populations and densities, inner core degradation and suburban sprawl, changing urban cultures and the making of public spaces, community participation and alternative practices.

Hopefully, the resultant exposition and book being produced will serve as an important, innovative, and original piece of reference for; students, peers, and the architectural community at large. It is hoped that the Karachi studio will continue to evolve and expand out into other architecture and urban design initiatives.