Pakistan Architecture and Cinema

By | December 18, 2021

Architecture. – Following the creation of the Islamic state of Pakistan (1947), many projects were put in place to ensure that Karāchī passed from the role of regional capital to that of capital of the new republic. Despite this, when Ayub Khan took power (1958), the idea of ​​a new and more beautiful Karāchī was abandoned in favor of the creation of a new capital: Islāmābād, located in the vicinity of Rāwalpindi, at the foot of the Kaśmir mountains. The prestigious task of designing Islāmābād, as well as the satellite city of Korangi, near Karāchī, was entrusted in 1959 to the architectural and urban planning firm Doxiadis and Associates.

In 1960 CA Doxiadis and his collaborators designed 5000 dwellings for the new capital, adopting the principle of multi-storey line houses, along lines of equal length on both sides of the street without marked customizations of the scheme (1960-65). Numerous other architects worked on the construction of Islāmābād, both from different parts of Europe and Pakistanis.

In sector G7, G. Bridgen and C. Franklyn built (1965) housing units articulated around a covered market, with common areas, bars and tea rooms, reminiscent of the structure of the Persian bazaar. Bridgen and D. Lovejoy designed the Government Hostel (1986), which, located in the area reserved for important buildings, has an atrium plan with arcaded spaces and courtyards enlivened by fountains according to Middle Eastern fashion. The Mosque, in the G6 sector, is the work of the Pakistani architect Khaja Zaheer ud Din, interested in the maintenance of Islamic forms (1965). The Ponti, Fornaroli and Rosselli studio worked on the Secretariat project (1963), an enormous building vaguely reminiscent of a caravanserai; the best work of the same studio is the Sherazad Hotel (1979-81). For Pakistan culture and traditions, please check

In 1962 L. Kahn was commissioned to design an administrative and cultural center for the second capital of the Eastern Pakistan: the area destined for the new capital was Ayub Nagar, a few miles away from the old British center of Dhaka, with its red brick buildings and freestone. Kahn presented his proposals in 1964 and the first buildings were completed in 1967, four years before the formation of the new state of Bangla Desh, of which Dhaka became the capital.

Kahn worked in Dhaka until 1974, the year of his death, and in this period he developed the theories developed in the previous twenty-five years of activity. His most important work, the focal point of a group of buildings for administrative, diplomatic and residential use, is the National Assembly Building, begun in 1964: it consists of an octagonal room surrounded by galleries and walking areas. As in all buildings designed by Kahn, a very important element is the way in which sunlight is used to embellish the architectural forms; for this purpose the circular openings in the roof are intended, which bring light into the heart of the building, and, in the words of Kahn himself, “transform the room below into a treasure of shadows”.

In the seventies and eighties the works of Pakistani architects such as H. Fida and Y. Lari in Karāchī and Quetta show the high degree of preparation of the local professional class, which by now turns to the West only for specialist advice, thus overturning trends of the past. Examples are the Burma Pakistan Oil Building (1976) and the Taji Mahal hotel (1981), respectively by Fida and Lari. From the Americans Payette Associates, in collaboration with the Iranian Mohzan Khadem, is the project of the Agha Khan Hospital in Karāchī, completed in 1984 with funding from the Agha Khan Trust: in this building, one of the most notable recently built in Pakistan, a solution was reached which allowed the successful use of local forms and languages, combining them with contemporary technical schemes and means.

Cinema. – After his independence from India (1948), Pakistan found himself in the position of having to recreate the structures of cinematography, having lost, with the separation from India, technical equipment, workers, studios. The possibility of resuming film production did not arise until the late 1950s, a period in which about forty films a year were made, mostly melodramas or historical reconstructions: a less than mediocre standard, from which only a few works stand out. particularly significant, such as N. Ajmeri’s Kismet (1957) and Day shall dawn (1959) by A. Kardar. In the following years, Pakistani cinema has not shown any signs of evolution in the themes and subjects generally dealt with; this stalemate has meant that few directors – including M. Pervez and A. Bashir – have had the opportunity to stand out, especially since the precarious conditions of the industry have been counterpointed by vigilant political censorship and strict. Kardar himself had to wait until 1978 for his second film, Of human happiness.

Pakistan Cinema