︎Studio 4, Year 3
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LAHORE WOMEN'S COLLEGE, THE AGORA OF OUR TIMES
A year-long interest in public spaces and public institutions was fueled by, first, the risk of not having these spaces, and then, the lack of accessibility of these spaces for women. What does it mean to design for a woman in the urban world? By adopting this perspective, risk was understood not through its tangibility (i.e. the risk of death or injury) but through perception. What makes a space feel safe or unsafe? What triggers that warning response that means women avoid certain public spaces, thereby compromising participation? Factors such as visibility, surveillance, seating, time of day, and the presence of certain other populations such as children or the elderly all contribute to making a public space feel accessible. Locating these within the cultural context of a women’s college with an adjoined nursery in Lahore required an address of further nuances. Visibility within the building is important and enabled by a central courtyard lined with verandah-walkways. User comfort specific to the sociocultural context, however, is maintained by ensuring there is no view through the building from the outside. The scheme of the institutional, which creates a daily rhythm of busyness, is paired with informal, adaptable social spaces into which users spill into. A fortress-like presence with a rich, layered interior is sought through rammed earth construction which pays ode to Lahore’s Mughal architectural heritage.