Dialogue II by Architecture Design Art takes place in the city of lights

Karachi’s Frere Hall turned into an intellectual hub amidst an enriching, upbeat and inspirational seminar titled ‘Do you know your city?’ – Dialogue II. The event was organised by ADA (Architecture Design Art) in collaboration with Grohe and in partnership with KMC, to highlight the significance of Karachi and how Karachiites can contribute in making the city tolerant, peaceful and beautiful once again.

Durriya Kazi reading an excerpt from her article on Karachi

The event was well-attended by the civil society, prominent citizens and representatives of art and architecture, as well as the city’s socialites. The speaker panel for the seminar consisted of renowned academics, architects, engineers and people who were dedicated towards the betterment of the city.

The seminar kick-started after a welcome address by Maria Aslam, founder and chief editor of the premier magazine ADA – Architecture Design Art, where she dedicated the seminar to the two renowned Parveens of the city who were dearly loved by Karachiites – the late poetess Parveen Shakir and the late social activist Parveen Rehman. A recital of the former’s popular verse echoed in the halls of the Sadequain Art Gallery, leaving the audience enthralled.

The first speaker of the evening was the Hilal-i-Imtiaz recipient architect, urban planner, activist, social researcher, and writer – Arif Hasan, who shared his years of experience in the field and how the city has influenced his professional journey as an architect. Hassan shared a visual presentation of the research work he had done focused on the city’s urban planning and development ever since the city surfaced on world’s map. His presentation comprised of visual images and statistical details encompassing Karachi’s demographics, diversity and historic significance in the South Asian region.

Followed by his extensive information on the city of lights, the stage was then handed over to Durriya Kazi – a renowned academic, sculptor and head of Visual Arts department at the University of Karachi. Kazi took the audience down the memory lane with a powerful anecdote on Karachi, where she recited an excerpt from her piece written on the various dynamics of the city encapsulating its diversity, rich culture, well-to-do past and much more.

The next speaker to take the stage was social and environmental activist Roland D’ Souza of Shehri fame, a professional engineer and electrical consultant. D’ Souza shared details about the contribution of the Christian community in making the city the vibrant hub it was once upon a time. He spoke of the many factions of the community and how many have now fled abroad in the midst of the deteriorating law and order situation in Karachi. Next came Shahid Abdullah, architect and philanthropist was next to share his thoughts on the how he associated himself with Karachi. He spoke of the many opportunities the land has to offer and also gave an insight into the many amazing structural changes the city has witnessed in all these years since its inception. Abdullah was then followed by Azhar Zaidi, the country head of Grohe Pakistan who is steering the company towards responsive environmental upgradation and is working specifically towards smarter consumption of the fast depleting water resource of Karachi.

The seminar threw light on how Karachi in spite of all its myriad problems is truly owned by its residents, a fact that also manifests itself in the form of public-private partnerships visible everywhere in the city. These partnerships are responsible for all the positive activities and developments in Karachi today, be they in the form of communal developments, art, tree plantations or open schools. The seminar also brought to the fore the history of Karachi, its rich culture and multi-ethnic populace. The city was once described as the Star of the East, promising to be a gateway to the rest of the world. It was the hub of South Asia and promised a bright and brilliant future. All of the speakers highlighted the positive role this great city has played in the past, arriving at the happy – and perhaps surprising to many – conclusion that it has lived up to its promised legacy.