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Architect receives backlash for rendering a concrete jungle at Daman-e-Koh

Renowned architect Tony Ashai receives criticism for not taking the environment into consideration in his conceptualization of a public park in the Margalla Hills

Social media users have made astute observations and expressed disapproval of the idea for development of a high-end park at Daman-e-Koh, Margalla Hills, a potential design for which was crafted and shared by renowned architect Tony Ashai on Twitter a day ago.

Ashai, who is the founder of the globally famous Ashai Design Consulting Corporation, had posted a few renderings of his proposed design for the park in Daman-e-Koh, which he claimed Prime Minister Imran Khan had requested him to work on. The images he posted showed layers of green terraces that housed retail and food outlets, all over overlooking Islamabad’s lush green Margalla Hills.

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Following his post, netizens gave their views about the idea, with many leaning towards disapproval. A hobbyist bird watcher and photographer, Zahran, saw the design and hoped that the park never came to fruition because it would be an affront to the environment. He pointed out that the illegal construction of Monal, which lies north of Daman-e-Koh, had already caused damage to the natural flora and fauna in the area. Zahran opined that the area should be declared a wildlife sanctuary and that the suggested development should be prohibited like it is in national parks around the world.

Other users echoed Zahran’s concerns regarding the environment

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One user responded with diplomacy, stating that Ashai had made a good design, but Pakistan wasn’t ready for such a tourist space. Better waste management should be the goal before setting more tourist spaces, ideally far away from green spaces like Daman-e-Koh, he posited.

Climate activist Rina Khan Satti pointed out that the park’s construction fell under the jurisdiction of the Islamabad Wildlife Management Board and was subject to its approval. Satti also responded to Ashai’s claims that the park was currently in ‘bad shape’. She suggested that the architect visited the trails to observe how the environment had flourished because it escaped the human touch.

Another user responded to Satti and suggested that Ashai was potentially referring to the rocks and cluttered growth of trees. Nevertheless, she agreed with Satti that the area would do well if it wasn’t polluted with noise and blinding lights.

One user hinted at the potential gentrification that could result from the park’s development. Inaccessible high end retail shops would inadvertently drive low-income communities away from the public space, he predicted.

Branching out of climate related criticism, a user called Ashai’s appointment to the task as nepotism on PM Khan’s part. According to the user, Ashai was Khan’s friend, who was earlier commissioned to design Namal Institute that was founded by the PM.

Ashai rejected the charge of nepotism and said that others were also asked to present their ideas.

Taking note of the criticism, Ashai thanked users for their comments. What he had presented was just an ideation, not the actual project itself, he explained. A competitive bidding process would be followed if the project ever took off, which was unlikely given how slow developmental projects are in Pakistan, Ashai claimed.

 

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