Theses (Historic Preservation)

Document Type

Thesis or dissertation

Date of this Version



Suggested Citation:

Bhatti, Zara Shafiq (2018). Understanding Traditional Domestic Buildings in Pakistan – Lessons for Contemporary Design (Masters Thesis). University of Pennsylvania, Philadelphia, PA.


After Independence in 1947, the quest for modernity was evident in the way Pakistan pursued western ideologies in its building design and construction. Architects from around the world were invited to envision the new face of the young nation. The capital, Islamabad was envisioned and planned by Greek Planner Constantinos Dioxidas who was invited by the Government of Pakistan. Modernity was viewed as a symbol of progress, replacing, discarding architectural traditions in the process. Unlike the modern ideology currently being practiced in the country, traditional domestic architecture of Pakistan is a response to local context, that considers the climate, availability of indigenous materials and craftsmanship, respect for local cultures and societies, and commonly held religious beliefs and traditions.

This paper analyzes traditional dwellings in Pakistan and the surrounding region to establish that traditional design can guide contemporary housing design in Pakistan. It draws upon the solutions found in historic domestic buildings to address contemporary challenges. The analysis proves that adoption of traditional building principles can be beneficial and sustainable and there are lessons to be learned from historic architectural buildings of Pakistan. The paper analyzes six residential buildings that incorporates aspects of traditional building; three historical pre-Partition buildings and three contemporary post-Partition projects and establishes the importance of adopting traditional architectural principles in contemporary context.


Lahori Architecture, jharoka, Courtyard, Pakistani Architecture, Walled City of Lahore



Date Posted: 11 June 2018