By Taimoor Khan
Mimaran is a non-profit society dedicated to raising the standards of
architectural design and building construction in Pakistan. By restoring
the historical link between architect and craftsman and by developing a profound
understanding of our heritage and traditions the Anjuman Mimaran seeks to
establish a sound basis for evolving an Architecture which is both rooted
in our culture and is meaningful and relevant to the realities of our time.
The Anjuman Mimaran
(Architects' Guild) was formed in 1988 in Lahore by a group of dedicated
architects, engineers and building craftsmen. A Board of Governors manages
the affairs of the society, while a full-time coordinator and
assistant-coordinator manage the Anjuman's activities.
In pursuance of its stated
objectives the Anjuman's activities over the past seventeen years have included,
field trips, seminars, exhibitions, publications, conservation, restoration,
design and construction work.
An initial aim of the
Anjuman was the establishment of a school of building arts, but it was
immediately recognized that the first priority would have to be given to
research. A regular monthly colloquium for persons actively engaged in research
into the architectural heritage of the region was organized.
Each year, a subject area
for study would be chosen and a programme of field study tours organized
around it. This would be followed by a public seminar and exhibition to raise
public awareness on the subject, and the publication of the proceedings.
Five successive yearly seminars and related exhibitions were held from 1989
1989: Hindu Temples
Shahiya period (7th to 10th century AC).
1990: Sultanate Period Architecture in Pakistan
1991: Historic Towns of Pakistan
1992: Urban Domestic Architectural Traditions in Pakistan
1993: Contemporary Architecture in Pakistan
In 1999 the Anjuman initiated
an email discussion on Modernity & Tradition. An enthusiastic international
debate ensued, which it plans to publish. An outcome of this debate was the
tabling of an urban design concept for sustainable green urban communities
as an answer to the urabanisation problems of Pakistan. This concept was
the theme of a one-day seminar on Urban Communities in March 2000, hosted
by the Lahore School of Economics.
The Anjuman Mimaran and
Maktaba-e-Anaveem Pakistan (MAP), People's Forum for Contextual Theologies
have jointly launched an annual seminar series on 'Art & Spirituality'
with the aim of deepening awareness and unity amongst the various religious
traditions of our region through presenting a view of the world and of man
based on a sacred manner of looking at things, and the expressions of this
worldview in the various traditional arts, most directly the sacred arts.
The first seminar of the series was a two-day seminar on the theme of 'Art
and Spirituality' in May 2003. The second seminar of this series titled 'The
Role of the Artist' was held in April 2004.
building vocabularies, methods and techniques
As part of the Anjuman's
program to document, learn and publish traditional building methods and
techniques used by hereditary master craftsmen, a series of sixteen colloquiums
were conducted by 83-year old master mason Ustad Haji Abdul Aziz from February
to June 2000. Topics covered included, polygons, arches, domes, minaret,
and geometric patterns.
June 2000: A 5-week Summer
Workshop in Naqqashi (Fresco Painting) conducted by Ustad Saif-ur-Rahman,
with the support of the National College of Arts. The workshop was in the
context of an on-going restoration of the 17th century tomb of Hazrat Khwaja
Bihari, for which Anjuman is the consultant.
March-April 2004: A 10-Day
Workshop on architectural calligraphy conducted by Ustad Khursheed Alam
Gohar Qalm, focussing on the calligraphy of Wazir Khan Mosque and
September 2004: Two-day
Workshop on: Calligraphy & Illumination: by Ustad Rasheed Butt (Recipient
Presidential Pride of Performance Award) in collaboration with Council of
The Anjuman is currently
working on a research and publication project on the traditional building
arts of Chiniot. This small Punjab town has been the center of a very rich
tradition in the building arts including masonry and woodwork. Today it remains
a center of wood products, though limited mostly to hybrid commercial furniture.
Under commercial pressure and passing away of old masters traditional design
vocabulary and methods are slowly but surely dying out.
The current focus of the
project is the spectacular Tazias of Chiniot. Tazias represent the celestial
palace as well as tomb of the Prophet's martyred grandson Imam Hussein. These
are carried in procession in the Imam's memory during the annual mourning
rituals of Muharram. The nine existing Tazias date from the 1930s to the
present. The few craftsmen who can still make Tazias, are transmitters not
only of the craft but also of the history of their famous predecessors whose
work can still be seen in Chiniot and other places. Thus the urgency to record
their skill and knowledge before it disappears forever.
Parallel to its research
and publication activities the Anjuman has been actively providing consultancy
services focused on the traditional building arts since 1992. This includes
conservation/restoration projects as well as new work using traditional design
vocabularies, techniques and materials.
The Anjuman's Restoration
& Conservation Projects include documentation and proposal for the
restoration and adaptive re-use of Haveli Sayyeda Mubarak Begum in the Walled
City, Lahore (1992); Restoration of Khawaja Behari mosque, Mian Mir Village,
Lahore (1993); Restoration of Kotla Mohsin Khan Gateway, Peshawar (1996)
and the ongoing restoration of the tomb of Hazrat Khawaja Bihari since 1997.
In 2000-2001 the Anjuman Mimaran provided documentation drawings, work plans
and proposals for the restoration of the ancestral mosque of the Hayat family
of Wah in northern Punjab. The mosque is currently being restored by the
family, using authentic traditional materials, techniques, and motifs. In
2003 similar proposals for the Aitchison College Mosque in Lahore were prepared.
The Anjuman's past Design
& Construction projects include new façades for Lok Virsa
Museum, Islamabad as a living exhibition of Pakistan's urban domestic
architectural traditions (1995-1998). The facades, in the phase completed
to-date, are based on Lahore's walled city facades. Also for Lok Virsa is
a craftsmen's rest house, demonstrating the application of indigenous design
principles and traditional building materials and techniques (1996-1997).
Product Design &
fabrication work in 2001-2002 for private clients based on traditional
models, techniques and materials includes, balconies, painted wooden ceilings,
doors, a fireplace, terracotta niches and wood furniture. Architectural
Design projects from 2002-2003 include: Tomb modification, WWF Resource
Centre Salt Range. While Interior design projects from 2003-2004 include
OUP Bookshop, Staff Room Punjab University and Bookland Bookshop Lahore.
These projects fund the
Anjuman's research and other activities and provide an opportunity to apply
what has been learnt through documentation and research as well as become
incentives for further research. Most importantly they contribute to the
preservation of traditional building skills and techniques.
Coordinator Anjuman Mimaran
Anjuman Mimaran's office from 9:00am to 5:00pm
18-A, Mian Mir Road, Lahore, Pakistan
Ph: (0092-42) 5758252, 5713322