P A K I S T A N    H E R I T A G E


Anjuman Mimaran, Pakistan
By Taimoor Khan

The Anjuman 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.

Seminars & Exhibitions

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 to 1993.

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.

Recording Traditional 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 Taj Mahal.

September 2004: Two-day Workshop on: Calligraphy & Illumination: by Ustad Rasheed Butt (Recipient Presidential Pride of Performance Award) in collaboration with Council of Calligraphers Pakistan.

Chiniot Project

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.

Consultancy Services

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.

Taimoor Khan
Coordinator Anjuman Mimaran

For further information contact:
Anjuman Mimaran's office from 9:00am to 5:00pm
18-A, Mian Mir Road, Lahore, Pakistan
Ph: (0092-42) 5758252, 5713322


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