The trajectory of Asiya and Christophe is rich and special. Both understand the actors and factors and their inter-linkages that create the built and socio-economic environment. They also understand the politics of urban development and how to interact with it. The structure of thinking that makes this possible has been developed by them through practice, documentation, debate and discussion, involvement, and above all a search for social equity. The most important aspect of Asiya and Christophe’s work is that they place the human being and the ecology of the region where they work at the center of their research and projects.
I have had the pleasure of knowing, teaching, and collaborating on various research and architectural projects with Arch. Asiya Sadiq since 1990. She worked on research projects related to urban development, poverty, infrastructure, and training of community members and municipal officials on community planned and financed infrastructure. This work fed into the Orangi Pilot Project Research and Training Institute’s (OPP-RTI) research and development programmes. It also fed into the advocacy movements, involving large-scale community mobilization, of the Karachi Urban Resource Center (URC).
But the story does not end here. Her husband, Christophe Polack, joined my practice in 2004 and in 2006 we formed a consultancy firm (Hasan and Polack). The firm worked on several major architectural and planning projects involving issues related to the environment, history, culture, and politics of the regions in which we worked. The most important of the project that we undertook was the Tharparkar Urban Development Project.
Founding Member of the Asian Coalition for Housing Rights, Bangkok
Ex-Chairperson/Chief Consultant Orangi Pilot Project, Karachi
I am very happy to write down this note to describe my views about the works and aspirations of two of my learned colleagues, Asiya Sadiq Polack, and Christophe Polack. There are some prominent attributes in their work that require a prominent mention. Both essentially observe, study, analyze and relate to the context in which the assignment is set. Be it an exploratory study, a small-scale design intervention, mitigation plan in a situation of conflict or a testing exercise for advocacy of a solution, the rootedness of the approach is a worth noting attribute.
Drawing inspiration from the critically acclaimed works of the seers in development and then evolving one’s own path is another important feature to note. Asiya and Christophe have worked and engaged with some of the most well-respected professionals and academics in East and West. But they have succeeded in absorbing the spirit and developing their own niche for a recognizable contribution. In many publications and discourses, this attribute has been found and appreciated. Besides, the duo possesses enormous empathy for the clients, beneficiaries, and associated peoples for whom they work. This is a rare quality that lifts them to a unique merit which makes their design, research and advocacy ventures fully subscribed by the respective folks. I wish them God speed in their professional and academic work and pray that their socially inspired practice makes a much broader impact on society.
Faculty of Architecture and Management Sciences
NED University of Engineering and Technology, Karachi
Observing Asiya and Christophe’s work over the years, I feel their practice responds to the specific needs of the communities in which they work and the experiences that can be learned from and re-imagined in different cultural and socio-political contexts. In this way, their work challenges established structures and narratives, unpacks different forms of knowledge production, which is both situated in their locale and insightful in their professional rigor.
The new website traces the formation of their practice between Brussels and Karachi which connects them to the historical, landmark project ATOMIUM, built as part of the 1958 Expo held in Brussels. It also highlights their extensive experience of urban Karachi, which has allowed them to create alternative practice models, rooted in the Global South, and apply these to rethink design, research, and experimental pedagogy.
Their work embraces community engagement, collectivity, and interdisciplinary collaboration, which are all forms of political participation that can ultimately transform and sustain communities in Asia as well as in Europe. I look forward to the projects that unfold at Sadiq and Polack Architects and their impact in the field of architecture and beyond.
Insta | naiza_khan_art
If there is one thing that defines the architectural practice of Christophe and Asiya, it is their people-centered design. As an artist whose work evolves with public interaction, I feel a great resonance with their projects. It seemed very natural that both our practices were shown in the “Rising Tide - A New Direction in Art and Architecture from Pakistan ” exhibition in Karachi. I was very moved by their poetic documentation of the generations of squatters occupying the grounds of the heritage building they were commissioned to restore.
Christophe and Asiya were more likely to be seen travelling in rickshaws or wandering the streets of Karachi rather than sitting in a design studio. It is easy to forget that buildings and the spaces between them are not just “forms assembled in the light ", but catalysts that bring people together, or keep them apart; that enable relationships between people or with the city and the endless possibilities of its spaces. Christophe and Asiya always begin their design solutions with an extensive understanding of the people who will use the spaces or be affected by their construction.
Karachi, a crumbling heritage city, sagging under the burden of rapid new constructions to accommodate a burgeoning population, has become a contested space for those wishing restoring its original grace and developers eyeing opportunities for new construction. To this, Christophe and Asiya, inspired by the work of Architect and Planner, Arif Hasan, have added an insistence on accommodating the rights of the city’s informal sector that is key to its vibrant commerce - it's street hawkers, it’s basti housing or creating relaxing parks in stressful congested localities.
Christophe and Asiya have importantly taken their approach to the built environment beyond commissioned projects into their teaching practice, both in Pakistan and Belgium and in contributing to associations such as the Urban Resource Centre, Karachi. This speaks to their inherent altruism and places them as relevant architects in negotiating cities of the future. With Lots of love for them, Durriya
I can recall several characteristics within the research work of Sadiq and Polack in the last ten years. It is their understanding of the spatial production beyond western-centric thinking which leads to the recognition of; Loose Spaces, Bottom-Up Appropriations and the qualities that emerge because of complex interactions between different stakeholders. Another prominent characteristic of their practice is to integrate this knowledge into spatial design and into a critical approach to the design process where the role of the designers is also questioned through the practice. I would also like to stress their persistence and interest in going beyond the practice and reaching to knowledge production through novel modes. They try to reach beyond this “autopilot of architecture”, not just producing spaces but also the knowledge that can be relevant to different parties spreading it through their practice on a global level.
and Digital Media at Faculty of Architecture, KU Leuven