A Shared-Housing Project in Karachi

The following project was the result of a year long investigation as part of my Bachelors of Architecture final thesis. The project, while initially conceived to explore Architecture through the lens of Economics to look for a post-capitalistic form of architecture. It eventually focused on Sharing Economy and its potential impacts on the problem of Housing and Sustainability in the context of Karachi and the Urban environment. While presented as an architectural design thesis, the project’s full scope included outreach to create awareness among the urbanites of a more sustainable and financially viable ways of living, and as such a booklet was designed as well. The project was eventually given an Honorable Mention in 2020 Institute of Architects’, Pakistan Graduate Kausar Bashir Award for Socially Responsive Architecture. The essay that formed the underpinning of the project, Prospects for a 21st Century Architecture, was also awarded a distinction.

The thesis aims to explore the potentials of shared-economy inside the scope of built environment. It explores the possible applications of the concepts of shared-economy, such as re-usability and right-to-access, inside the environment we live in. Applications of these concepts can be used to tackle the problems of massive inequity & sustainability in the socio-economic and environmental spheres of the urban areas. By focusing on developing ‘systems’ instead of just a building, the thesis also attempts to open areas of inquiry for architects beyond the building itself. By using a framework of shared-economy, the thesis presents the possibilities of a future in practice and application of architecture, not afforded to us by the existing framework of neo-liberal economics. 

The project explored the implications of the capitalistic economic influences upon architecture, especially on housing, and its drawbacks. By tracing the changes in economic frameworks, the project’s premise sits on the evolution of our economic system due to the proliferation of Internet and the rise of new technologies. Through examining the drivers of this evolution, issues such as rising inequality and environmental concerns, our economic system may potentially move from that of consumption-based to that of sharing-based. The project further explores implications of such an evolution on issues concerning not just architectural design, but the entirety of built environment and its social, economic and environmental spheres. Using the urban context of Karachi, and the trends of sharing resources that exist in our societies, the project attempts to provide a more socio-economically relevant alternative to the current design of dwellings. The project instead of designing just a building, also attempted to design and integrate the various system that govern a building. The systems of financing, managing resources and sustainable energy use are then designed for the project. The project is explored from both macro and micro scales. At the macro level, the project is conceived as a node in a network of similar projects, all working together in cohesion and providing for not just its occupants but also the society at large. On a micro level, the project aims to benefit its immediate context through minimizing its consumption of resources and wastage while providing safe, affordable, healthy and cohesive living spaces. By looking at architecture as a systematic exercise instead of a boutique response, the project’s goal is to provide a version of architecture which benefits everyone instead of only those who commission it.

“We have to experiment with forms of architecture as well as rules of conduct towards the complete construction of architecture and urbanism that will someday be within the power of everyone.” – Guy Debord

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