Department of Visual Studies -Karachi University | By Saifullah Sami Architect

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Project : Department of Visual Studies -Karachi University

Plot Size : 2.25 acres (9105 sq m)

Covered Area : 153,000 sq ft

“We had to avoid surrounding each unit with a wall which would give the whole set-up an appearance of five jails set in the middle of the University, particularly since this feature would be incompatible with the composition of gardens and parks which we have planned.

We have preferred to surround the compound with a ditch……..A single bridge would cross the ditch towards the entrance. Supervision is thus enforced ……………..On the other hand, the unit will not look as though it is cut off from the other garden elements and various constructions of the University.”

(Michel Ecochard, Architect of Karachi University – 1956)

The proposed building for Karachi University’s Department of Visual Studies (KU-DOVS) is situated on 2.25 acres (9,105 square meters) of open land west of the Student Teacher Club (STC) building that has served as the Department’s home since its inception in 1998.

The 153,000 sqft (14,214 sqm) building consists of academic spaces for 6 disciplines belonging to the visual arts and accommodates 900 students and 50 teachers. In addition to studios, lecture rooms and faculty offices, there are amenities such as a dedicated arts and architecture library, computer labs, work-shops, open-air amphitheater, sculpture garden, cafeteria and visiting artists’ residences. The administration offices, auditorium and art gallery will continue to be housed within the STC which will itself be restored to its original design as envisioned by its renowned French architect Michel Ecochard. A pedestrian bridge between this and the new building will serve as the link between new and existing.

The immediate physical context of KU-DOVS is Ecochard’s 1279 acre Karachi University (KU) campus at the north-western edge of Pakistan’s ever-expanding megacity. The proposed design draws on sustainable concepts – an approach that also expresses a desire to learn from and extend Ecochard’s vision for the KU Campus.

Such an approach melds landscape and architecture to create continuous human experiences and also to make climatic response. In line with Ecochard’s thinking, the building avoids deploying boundary walls but creates security through sectional discontinuities – the sunken sculpture court – or Ecochard’s “ditch” – at Lower Ground can be viewed from the landscaped entrance ramp/bridge but is openly accessible only to the community of the Department from deeper within the building.

Another sectional idea in the design is the “inhabited” roof which offers a series of green recreational spaces. Modernist in language, the building also relies on the idea of an “architectural promenade” to encourage human interaction through movement and visual continuity. Central street and amphitheatre concepts are married with a courtyard strategy for departmental definition – this reflects the desire to balance the need for inter-disciplinary discourse with the need of disciplinary integrity.

Above all the proposed design seeks to give the DOVS community an open, nurturing and inspiring space to inhabit in the pursuit of artistic creativity.





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Project by Saifullah Sami Architect

Contact at :  +92 333 2271004

Address:      94-C Faran Society, behind Rangoonwala Community center, Near Dhoraji,    


Formed in 2015, Saifullah Sami Architect is a compact and cohesive group of inspired young design professionals for whom good architecture is a matter of passion. We combine a rational, analytical approach with intuition in the design process. In the making of architecture, we believe in both problem-solving and poetics – ideals we strive for personally through active engagement with stakeholders, passionate sketching, drawing, 3D modelling, rendering and physical model-making.

We provide design services in the following disciplines:

Master Planning
Architectural Design
Interior Design
Landscape Design
Urban Design

Services we provide include client engagement and program development, concept design, design development and coordination with engineering disciplines, preparation of tender packages to finally top supervision of construction.

The firm is registered with the Pakistan Council of Architects and Town Planners (PCATP).

About the Principal: Saifullah Sami
Practicing architecture since 2003, Saif is well-exposed to contexts both global and local. He has a Master of Architecture degree from Yale University, USA and a Bachelor of Architecture degree from Indus Valley School of Art and Architecture (IVSAA), Karachi with a Gold Medal for Excellence in Architecture. He has a diverse educational background with an MBA from the Institute of Business Administration, Karachi. From 2007 to 2009, while on the prestigious Fulbright Scholarship of the US Department of State, Saif traveled extensively to various places across the globe including – Europe and Japan – to experience great works of architecture first-hand. At Yale he was influenced by master-architect teachers such as Fred Koetter, John Patkau, Stefan Behnisch and Peter Eisenman, learning a critical approach to design. Working in Karachi with architect Arif Hasan, he acquired a respect for the urban realm and wider societal realities in Pakistan – an attitude that continues to inform his work at the level of the individual building as well. Having worked for six years first as project architect and then as principal architect of the respected Karachi firm Ahed Associates, Saif gained invaluable experience in the design and production of architecture in general and institutional architecture in particular. At this firm, in 2010 his design for the Habib University in Karachi won a prestigious Merit Award from the Society of College and University Planning (SCUP)in the US – the first instance of a Pakistani firm winning the award.

Saif has an active engagement with academia. Apart from contributing to local design periodicals, he has taught architectural design at IVSAA and NED University in Karachi and has officiated as external juror and examiner at these institutions as well as at Karachi University’s Department of Visual Studies. He has lectured at various institutions including the Habib University in Karachi as well as forums hosted by the Institute of Architects Pakistan (IAP), the Pakistan Green Building Council (PGBC) and the United States Education Foundation in Pakistan (USEFP). Saif has served on the Board of Architecture Studies at IVSAA as well asat NazeerHussain University in Karachi. He is a member of the IAP and a life-time member of the Pakistan Council of Architects and Town Planners (PCATP).



Info-360 is an Online Architecture Projects Directory which has evolved into a Complete Portal to Pakistan Architecture, Construction , Real Estate and Academics. It was Started Back in 2014 by Architect Abdul Ahad ,Graduated from University of Engineering and Technology Lahore . The Idea Behind info-360 is to provide a single platform for Architects,Contractors ,Students to Display their work and Business Profile and to create a 1- Stop Information source for Visitors.

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