Karachi lies at 24.8607° N, 67.0011° E with an average temperature of 25.9 °C and virtually no rainfall. In 2015, an infamous but expected heat wave caused the deaths of over 2,000 people and the relentless heat continues to kill hundreds of people across the city every year. It is Pakistan’s most populous and cosmopolitan city and the 6th most populous city in the world. However, there is a lack of acceptance to those whose bodies do not count toward the census, but who feel the arid heat against their skin everyday. It is for these bodies that we propose this project.

Driving the streets of Karachi, the amount of people on the streets is striking. as a visitor from New York City, I thought I understood what population density meant— I did not. In NYC the architecture, subway systems, and social structure wittingly or unwittingly aid our homeless population during the brutal winter months. Hotlines seek out those exposed to the elements to help them find shelter, and coat drives can be seen on most city blocks. In the cold, layering is the best option to protect against the cold.

In Karachi's scorching heat there is only so much that one can do to protect themselves from direct sunlight without modern technology, adequate electricity or infrastructure to cool off, before even accounting for the fact that a large proportion of the population could not afford these even if they were present. . There are few geographic forms of shade in the city, with trees sparsely placed throughout the city, and often on private property or quartered off from beggars. Concrete lines the streets like perfectly pruned hedges- further and more resolutely sanctioning off more spaces. Security walls work to protect but also segregate, those who cannot afford to enter or own their own. Reinvigorated, clean spaces are restricted- made for only the affluent, even when they are created under the guise of public space. To illustrate the attitude of affluent Karachi towards ownership of public space and amenities, one only has to look as far as the waiter at your next meal at Boat Basin, shooing away hawkers and panhandlers so you can enjoy your dinner under the stars, in the cool breeze of a pedestal fan.

And So the left-overs and the passed-overs take to the streets, lying in any shade they can find, crouched against animals or cars, seeking any available refuge. “Heat Wave” aims to redefine and reimagine ideas of loitering. We hope to provide an alternative to security and barbed wire walls, using acceptance rather than oppression to renew city planning. More so, we want to acknowledge this part of the population, to truly include the homeless and impoverished into the way that Karachi is built. While they look in through the windows of our cars, our banks and our homes, through doors that remain closed to them, our goal is to provide a comfortable place for them to wait, and hope the doors open soon

This piece will start as a series of walls around Karachi but the longterm goal would be to see more of these incorporated around the city. We would construct it using opaque fiberglass “waves” that sit on the top of a security wall. The glass would not be stagnant. It would be bound on a pulley system (like blinds) allowing the user to direct shade with the moving sun. Fiberglass is a cheap and durable material as is the metal that we plan on incorporating- both would need little maintenance, if any. Structurally the metal would mimic the pattern of fencing but the design would serve as a more welcoming enclosure and as a cooling mechanism.

At the Lahore Fort perforated concrete walls provided primitive AC to the Mughal courts ; the circular metal design is based on that form. The piece is a play on the term heat wave not just as a memorialization to the brutal weather’s affects but also in reference to Karachi being the country’s only major coastal city . We choose green as a playful way of adding greenery to the city in lieu of plants. Crowds of people, surrounding our cars are often our visual foliage, lining the streets on our daily commutes.

The proposed locations can be broadly classified as stemming from two distinct motives.

The first group, which includes locations such as Teen Talwar, the intersection of Khayaban-e-Hafiz and Shamsheer, and the intersection of Shahra-e-Faisal and Club Road serve a utilitarian motive. These are areas with a high density of the shelter-less, trying to eke out enough money each day by selling trinkets or displaying disfigurements, ailments or simply even their sheer poverty, to perhaps buy a bit of roti at the end of each day, if not kapra or makaan.

The second group, consists of locations in the lee of affluence and influence, including the walls of or near Governor House, Dolmen Mall, Sindh Parliament, and the US Consulate. These walls are intended to serve as critiques of our privileged and our powerful, at best deliberately turning a blind eye to those less fortunate, and at worst stealing food from the mouths of their babes. They are intended to serve as a reminder of the chasm between our rich and poor, and a reminder of what could have been us if only the dice had rolled differently in our lottery of birth. The US Consulate serves as a symbol of the above described notions of power and chance, as well as a nod to the connection between us as collaborators, personal and professional.


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