Derailing Colonial Bureaucracy
MPhil in Architecture and Urban Design
This project investigates the intersections between British colonialism, bureaucracy and poverty in Pakistan’s Railway communities. After 75 years of independence from its colonial masters, Pakistan is still beset with a majority populace that lives in enduring poverty. Inherited colonial bureaucracy and its impact on the management of land and resources is presented in this study as a persistent factor in consigning working class communities to live in squalor. Particular emphasis has been placed upon examining how railway communities are pre-ordained to a rigid position within society, in which they are made to live in colonial era ‘state sanctioned slums’. In response to an anthropological survey of railway communities in Lahore, this project proposes a series of architectural interventions that aim to counter inordinate bureaucracy coupled with stringent zoning to allow the revival of declining industrial railway land and its communities. The Mughalpura Workshops, a former British colonial era locomotive repair facility, is the focal point of this case study, which represents a microcosm of Pakistani society. This design-research project reimagines the Mughalpura Workshops and associated railway land in Pakistan in a manner that embraces the informality of everyday life, creating the fabric to connect the communities that it ultimately serves.