The Lahore Biennale Foundation proudly launched its first project in Karachi on April 11, 2016, in collaboration with Patients’ Aid Foundation. The project functions as a design intervention that sought to transform and rejuvenate an outdoor waiting area at the Jinnah Postgraduate Medical Centre, which mainly caters to an underserved demographic of the populace urgently in need of a hygienic space. The undertaking also marks the beginning of the Innovations in Public Space initiative at the foundation, one motivated by the ethos of social innovation accomplished through methods of human-centric design.
Naima Dadabhoy and Roohi Ahmed, the artists who were at the core of this project, had a vision for the demarcated area that would make it an easily accessible and recuperative space for patients. In the extensive research leading up to the project, LBF and the artists considered sustainable solutions that would also fulfil an aesthetic purpose, in keeping with the foundation’s aim to bring art to public spaces. Dadabhoy and Ahmed then went on to implement this vision on-site with the vitality and determination required, in order to make the project a success.
When asked about their initial process and inspiration, Dadabhoy says, “We drew our inspiration from nature, primarily, because we wanted to work around a beautiful neem tree, which was an existing part of the space. Thus, our structure and bench needed to seamlessly fit into the environment surrounding it. As we were discussing different design ideas, the concept of building the benches in the shape of a leaf was further strengthened once we realised the PAF logo also has a leaf in its design. Once that was finalised it made sense to build shade out of organic materials as well- in this case, bamboo.”
Upon completion of the project, she expresses her feelings thusly: “Watching all these elements come together and transforming a public space that was previously under-utilised, impractical, and an added source of discomfort for the already ailing patients at JPMC- that has been the biggest source of pride for me. It is truly a testament to the transformative power of art in our society. Thank you to Dr. Sanya Mooraj of PAF and Qudsia Rahim of LBF for giving us the chance to be a part of this wonderful initiative.”
The ethos of the project is very much in line with LBF’s aim to foster community building and the PAF works extensively to provide commendable patient care; hence, this partnership is quite an organic one. Sanya Mooraj of PAF, who strove to facilitate the project in every way, says, “To enable people to be able to pause, take a breather before they face the day- we felt that the PAF waiting area at JPMC needed to be such a space. I never expected the artists at LBF to create the environment that they did. I see the children playing on the benches and it is heartwarming- thank you!”
Ferozsons Laboratories Limited graciously came forward as the sponsors for this project and President Osman Khalid Waheed, who also serves as LBF Chairman, is an ardent proponent of human-centric design and has previously stated that art could serve as an effective vehicle for social engagement. Going forwards, the foundation will actively seek out other opportunities for engagement; as Executive Director Qudsia Rahim puts it, “So much can be done, this is just one example of what art can do on a budget and the difference it can make to quality of life. We should all pause and ruminate upon what the arts can do- and why it is so important to empower them.”