Culturally Responsive Sustainable Home in Waziristan, KPK, Pakistan.

Nafeel Qureshi

Project idea

Since 17-18 century, from the Great Khurasan period, FATA holds the identity of Cultural Center of Pashtun of Afghanistan, Iran, and North-West Pakistan. Similar to Afghani Culture, the life style is very simple yet vibrant and building typologies are very compact and contextual. They rely mainly on indigenous building materials, like mud brick, wood, stones and thatch. The internal arrangement of the house is the reflection of their deeply rooted religious upbringing, in which "Pardah(segregation, women covering from head to toe) " is respected and "Mehmaan Nawazzi(hospitality) " is highly valued. The local culture was disrupted when FATA of Pakistan, bordering Afghanistan, became a safe haven for global terrorism after the war against terrorism, in Afghanistan. FATA paid a huge price for this War against Terrorism, with its region discombobulated due to the pandemonium created by the perpetual military operations. The massive displacement resulted in the fragmentation of Cultural identity of the Pashtun and the region. With the restoration of Peace, the need of an hour demanded immediate measures to bring back normalcy in the region. The aftermath of this emergency resulted in the use of modern material, robbing the region of its vernacular distinctiveness. To preserve the distinct Pashtun life style and their culture, the idea is to transform the traditional Pashtunwali codes into the Spatial Morphology in order to celebrate the culture with the rest of the world.

Project description

The spatial arrangement, in proposed plan, is a cluster of rooms around the multiple courtyards, respecting the contours of the site. Entering from the threshold courtyard, segregated spaces for animals and food storage are designed, keeping in mind the harsh weather of the area. Mehman Nawazi or serving the guests is an act of honour for Pashtun. This traditional aspect of the pashtunwali code is celebrated by keeping the guest room on separate level. To acknowledge the traditional hospitality of Pashtun people, ‘HUJRA’ is the spaces designated for the male members of family and males guests. Women sequestration is part of the FATA culture; they observe Pardah and thus it is very imperative that their private spaces are segregated from their public spaces. Respecting this cultural norm, the bedroom and living spaces are kept separated from the Hujra, on different levels. Following through the Hujra, courtyard to the next level, the separate living and private spaces is observed. For women, private courtyard space is designated, allowing them to socialize and relax, without compromising on their Pardah. Followed into the living space from courtyard, ‘Baithak’ is intervened, between kitchen and living room. These Baithak(communal seating areas) maintain the inner environment, keeping it warmer in extreme climatic conditions, because of its location near Bawarchikhana (kitchen). In Pashtun culture family bonding is highly cherished, and mealtime is considered a communal activity, enjoyed by every member of the family. Besides dinning spaces, Baithak are connected to close Verandas, to the private bedrooms which keep the micro climate maintained

Technical information

The vernacular architecture of the region is celebrated by inculcating indigenous materials for construction. The area is prone to seismic waves, therefore to ensure durability of the structure, wooden battens are sandwiched between mud bricks.
Scarcity of water in the region during harsh climate requires sustainable alternates, therefore, rainwater harvesting system is part of the design. The water bodies in the courtyards, while a mean to keep the micro climate moderate during summers, act as the well during arid spells. Thatch roof rests on wooden rafters. In order to avoid seepage of water into the spaces, during monsoon, locally available plastic sheets are tied to the thatch layer. Further layering of mud plaster and thatch ensure water proofing. The design is a tribute to the rich culture of FATA which paid a huge price to fight a war against terrorism.

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