She created gilded monuments to corporate excess. But now Yasmeen Lari is building mud huts for the poor. As she wins the Jane Drew prize, Pakistan’s first female architect looks back on an extraordinary life.
A mirrored glass ziggurat stands on a corner in central Karachi, flanked by a pair of polished granite towers. Golden bubble elevators glide up and down behind the tinted windows, shuttling oil executives to their offices through the sparkling five-storey atrium. The Pakistan State Oil House is a power-dressed monument to the petroleum-fuelled excesses of the early 1990s, oozing ostentation from every gilded surface – so it comes as a surprise to learn that its architect is now building mud huts for the poor... [+]