Reimagining Karachi is an initiative supported by Seedventures. It is an endeavour to take concrete measures to preserve the historical character of the city and to restore the architectural assets to their former grandeur.
Reimagining Karachi Logo

"The launching of 'Reimagining Karachi'lights a new hope for Karachi's historic areas - which having suffered decades of neglect and abuse in the name of incoherent development today present a defaced picture, reminiscing of its past glory. In the wake of incapacitated potentials of our public sector establishments, support from private sector entrepreneurs seems to be the only way for successfully attaining any revival of Karachi's heritage assets."

Dr. Anila Naeem, Prof. & Co-chairperson, DAPNED

"Heritage is a repository of knowledge that enables us learn from the past to brace the future. This learning process can only continue if heritage is scientifically maintained, valued and preserved."

Dr. Noman Ahmed
Professor and Chairman
Department of Architecture and Planning
NED University of Engineering and Technology

"In today’s world of happenings, all strata of life are important contributing factors in urge of betterment. It is extremely unavoidable in this time to not only educate ourselves with the emerging concepts of life but to actually realize the need of up gradation of minds. SEED has emerged with deep roots of these understandings which can be dealt as a stepping stone towards a better understanding of “Regarding Architectural Heritage”.

The aims and objectives as foreseen by SEED are broadly addressing the multiple horizons, yet the heritage conservation is one aspect which will be widely welcomed in Architectural circles. Karachi seems to be truly felt by SEED and the venture is likely to develop a sense of ownership of Architectural Heritage amongst common men.

These efforts once fulfilled will not only enrich the city with beautiful glimpses of past for the users of the city but also will provide a food for thought for future generations to care, nurture and respect their heritage."

Ar. Yasira Naeem Pasha
Assistant Professor, Chairperson
Department of Architecture and Planning
Dawood College of Engineering and Technology, Karachi

"A project like this would be very good for a cosmopolitan city like Karachi. It can get people from different walks of life together. It can bring different activities together such as cultural activities, artistic activities, music, food, entertainment; activities that are there but in pockets in Karachi, can be amalgamated in one place, creating more awareness at the same time. The basic problem of Karachi is ownership, or the lack thereof; so if somebody takes ownership, more people will follow. This project has the potential of bringing people together."

Sameera Raja
Artist, Architect
Owner Canvas Gallery

Empress Market

What do we see when we walk down the main streets of Empress Market? One of the oldest standing structures in Karachi, surrounded by a plethora of buses and carts, drowning in the noise of blaring horns and smoke.  Neglected, but once spectacular, Empress Market is a stunning reminder of Victorian architecture; a monument that needs to be nurtured and cared for.

Broken walls of dilapidated ruins tugged at the strings of my heart as I weaved my way through the busy streets of Empress Market. The entire road was dotted with gorgeous yellow-brick pieces of art, crying out to be loved and nurtured. I gazed at them quietly and tried to absorb the beauty that stood still amidst smoke, dust and a plethora of carts and buses. I looked around trying to figure out what had led man to become so oblivious to the breathtaking beauty that lies in the very centre of the city of lights. I wondered why we have become immune to the simple pleasures in life; not being able to enjoy the gifts that have been bestowed upon us. When did we become so ignorant that we could not understand the need to introduce our children to the silent monuments surrounding us? How could we be so ungrateful that we stopped treasuring the assets, the remarkable legacies; many of them now just a ghost town.

When I begun, I had no experience in this area; just a passion for historical architecture and the lost craftsmanship, the desire to preserve the treasures and a promise to myself that one day I will enable people to see the beauty that I see and find happiness and joy right here, at home…

I took a quick round of the area that included the main market, the clock tower as well as some adjoining buildings. While roaming around the area with my inefficient camera, my small notebook and big dreams, I also happened to notice the Fire Brigade building. I was astounded… I wasn’t prepared for this. Here I was exploring old buildings, some of which were occupied and some not; while my Pakistani fire fighters were operating from the ruins of a building. I felt ashamed of myself; I felt ashamed that I  thought I was so patriotic; I felt ashamed that I took so many things for granted in life; I felt ashamed that somehow I had never noticed this particular building. How could I have missed it? And I call myself a sensitive art lover and philanthropist? I felt I could not face myself. I thought of all those unfortunate events when I showed concern over the random fires that would break out; the one in Paper Market two years back when I kept grieving over one of my favourite haunts and for the people whose livelihood depended on the small shops scattered around the area; or the one in CTC, a local market in Clifton area where some shoppers trapped in the upper floors were bravely rescued by the fire fighters; the one ablaze in Empress Market in March 2011 when more than a hundred shops were affected. I chided myself for not once thinking of the people who risk their lives to perform their duties and put out the fires. I realized that this was just one branch office of the Fire Brigade; and it was just a coincidence that I noticed it because it was situated in Empress Market. I vowed to add this building to the list and see what could be done to restore it, not just for aesthetic value but also to provide a comfortable area for the fire fighters to operate from.
My mind was filled with dreams of beautiful gothic style buildings of the colonial era restored to their original glory and my heart was filled with hopes of being able to appeal to the senses of everyone whose contributions we needed in the process. I set out again with nothing but determination, passion and a desire to “extract beyond the obvious”. On my way I passed by the well-preserved Frere Hall; it brought a smile to my face. For some odd reason the majestic building and the lush grounds surrounding it made me think of the captivating architecture of the Empress Market buildings. Here we have a historical monument, right in the centre of our city, which once bragged of being the biggest market here yet we have not been able to preserve it. With careful assessment and evaluation of the market area and the issues that it faces, Empress Market can be restored to its former glory, provided, all the relevant bodies involved work together to do so.