Pakistan Chowk | پاکستان چوک

Pakistan Chowk is a landmark heritage site in District South, Karachi. It was once known as the educational hub of the city where institutions such as D.J.Science College and the Sindh College Association began. The area of Old Town is well known for a market of printing presses, especially those in Pakistan Chowk. The Chowk was previously utilized as a literary space, where people assembled to exchange conversations about literature, mainly in the forms of mushairas, baithaks and such. Historically, culture and art were central to the neighborhood, as the residents of Old Town used the Chowk as a public square and engaged in various artistic and cultural activities that strengthened social cohesion within the community.

There were spaces for cultural engagement and markets that catered to this affiliation between the private and the public. Over time, there began a social exclusion of classes from these spaces that previously created  cohesion between communities through art and culture. The horizontal expansion of the city as well as the horizontal concentration of wealth contributed in an exclusion that damaged the framework of society.

The Pakistan Chowk Initiative resulted from the pressing need to bring back art and culture to the people and not let it remain in the hands of the few. In Phase 01 of this initiative, our goal was to remodel a 6633 sq. ft. space in Pakistan Chowk. We remodeled the space with benches, lamp posts, trees, dustbins and a mass cleaning of an area that was previously a garbage dump and a public lavatory. That space now hosts artists, writers and activists from Old Town every weekend. The demographic mainly consists of a middle to lower income class that does not give a lot of credit to the arts. Considering this anecdote, we consider it a huge success for us.

 

 

interning team

  • Abiha Batool (2017)

  • Abeer Ahmed (2017)

  • Ahad Ali (2017)

  • Ali Shamim (2017)

  • Alina Naqvi (2017)

  • Alvina Ahmed (2017)

  • Ammarah Salman (2017)

  • Arafat Farooq (2017)

  • Asad Aly (2017)

  • Ayesha Siddiqui (2017)

  • Beenish Sarfaraz (2017)

  • Maida Zahra (2017)

  • Munawar Hussain (2017)

  • Mustafa Siddiqui (2017)

  • Namra Khalid (2017)

  • Reeba Tehseen (2017)

  • Rida Noor (2017)

  • Salik Nisar (2017)

  • Sharmeen Talpur (2017)

  • Taaram Zehra Cheema (2017)

  • Taha Bin Jamal (2017)

  • Umar Ayub (2017)

  • Zahra Mukhi (2017)

  • Zoha Bundally (2017)

  • Zoya Nasir Iqbal (2017)

  • Naila Naz (2018)

  • Aamna Memon (2018)

  • Abdul Rehman (2018)

  • Aliza Naqvi (2018)

  • Ashika Shaikh (2018)

  • Fatima Matanat (2018)

  • Hana Mapara (2018)

  • Hudaiba Soomro (2018)

 

  • Noorain Imam (2018)

  • Rabbiya Rizwan (2018)

  • Rabia Mustafa (2018)

  • Rajaa Moini (2018)

  • Rida Nadeem (2018)

  • Shehrezana Halim (2018)

  • Sundus Saif (2018)

  • Trinette Lucas (2018)

  • Umer Asim (2018)

  • Alina Amir (2018)

  • Eeman Hashmi (2018)

  • Fatima Jafar (2018)

  • Fatima Shah (2018)

  • Khadija Saeed Akhtar (2018)

  • Maria Mirza (2018)

  • Parmal Ahmed (2018)

  • Rida Fatima Shah (2018)

  • Ovaish Fatima (2018)

  • Ajiya Asif (2019)

  • Ashar Ahmed (2019)

  • Ayesha Ahmed Baig (2019)

  • Sakhshi Kumari (2019)

  • Shireen Bilgrami (2019)

  • Zahabia Khuzema (2019)

  • Emaan Farhan (2019)

  • Ailiya Nooruddin Merchant (2019)

  • Syeda Armeen Nasim (2019)

  • Hafsa Moin (2019)

  • Mashaal Amjad (2019)

  • Bushra Anis (2019)

  • Amna Qamar (2019)

  • Insiya Huzaifa (2019)

  • Hajra Hasan (2019)

  • Rohama Saqib (2019)

 

Testimonials

“This internship broadened my mind as well as offered a lot of experience. I learned about research
techniques, compiling data, interviewing and transcribing, and much about Karachi’s history and heritage. It was a very enriching and interesting experience alongside colleagues which increased my experience in teamwork and team research. Field work provided first hand observation of Karachi’s buildings that I would have otherwise overlooked. Overall, it was a great way to spend my summer.”
— Emaan Farhan

“Internship at Marvi Mazhar & Associates / PCCC was an enriching experience. It was not only rigorous in terms of field work but was very academically challenging as well.
As a student pursuing Social Development Policy, I learned essential skills of developing research and the methodology to pursue it the right way.
The foremost thing I would love to thank MMA for, is the opportunity to co-author the article: How development undid sea view.
The projects that I really liked working for and was whole heartedly invested in were: The Sea View Development project, Heritage walk activism campaign, and The Arrival City. These projects did not only provide a nuanced understanding of the challenges faced by a city like Karachi but gave me the opportunity to engage actively in the discourse around the refugee crisis, development, and heritage.
It was a challenging yet welcoming working environment. I would highly encourage and recommend people to intern at PCCC.”
— Ailiya Nooruddin Merchant

“I have participated in projects like HWK and OTM which are very well planned to let an individual learn about the heritage of Karachi. It was interesting to explore and investigate about Saddar and its locality. I have used my previous knowledge of illustrator and Photoshop to design posters during my internship. The idea of cross-pollination was really interesting, I felt that it should happen more often because it’ll allow everyone to think and observe beyond their assigned projects. I have also learned about the importance of our heritage and how everything requires maintenance and preservation. I also got to know the value and relevance of our heritage which is useful for my academics.”
— Bushra Anis

“My internship at PCCC was a worthwhile experience as I got exposure to new set of skills such as making HWK posters by Illustrator and Photoshop. To add this during research on encroachment I gained knowledge of further areas which were affected by encroachment drive such as Railway Cantt Station and the government policies regarding it. Furthermore, during the field research I got to explore and know the different areas near Pakistan Chowk which I did not know of before. It was insightful to learn the history of some of the heritage buildings and know how important it is to preserve the old architecture. In the OTM project I enjoyed photographing the buildings with its details. My time at this internship taught me a lot about history and heritage and how it is relevant to us.”
— Amna Qamar

“The internship proved to be a beneficial and insightful learning experience, allowing me to utilize my skills to the maximum while aiding richly to my learning experience.

The research work has allowed me to expand upon my knowledge bank. The field work has helped me step out and navigate spaces. There has been a lot of work back and forth and it has been challenging to meet the deadlines, however it has bettered my work ethic. The work in itself has been very interesting and the right mix of research as well as going out on the field and interacting real time. There has been a lot of collaborative effort and it has all taught me to navigate spaces as well as being introduced to a diverse set of people who all have some unique insight to offer.

My favorite projects have been working on the exhibition related to the Afghan Refugee crisis and documenting their experience, the collaborative exhibition really bridged gaps between vastly different communities while reflecting on the global refugee and immigrant question.

Researching on mangroves brought back memories from my favorite social studies classes in school, exploring the link of environmental disaster with the unprecedented urban development has awakened a sense of emergency and the idea of doing something towards it.

All in all, from learning about the old town heritage of Karachi to exploring the sea view coastline and questioning the development while asking important questions about the conservation of historic architecture, this internship has enriched my experience and made me a much better, socially aware citizen.

I will not only miss the workplace but all the co interns that I befriended and the rare chance to go explore the city on foot during field visits.”
— Armeen Nasim

“When I first heard about PCCC and how they work with heritage buildings from my teacher I was quiet intrigued. However, when I joined PCCC and started working here it came into my attention how PCCC not only does Old Town Mapping tracking down heritage buildings, heritage nodes and other heritage places but also does other projects such as The mangroves project, the seaview project, the Karachi Delhi App and so on. All these projects having vital significance in concern to our community all having extremely interesting facts and backgrounds to them. I learned so much about my own country that even though is in plain sight people fail to notice is wrong or questionable. Furthermore I got a good hang of Adobe Illustrator due to different tasks assigned to me and learned a lot from the people interning with me. Another thing that I enjoyed greatly and learnt from was Marvi’s vast knowledge on different subjects, how she spoke about them all differently and how she corrected us and pushed us to do better. I thoroughly enjoyed this internship it was a great learning experience for me and opened my eyes and mind to look at different aspects in our daily lives.”
— Hafsa Moin

“I have had been looking out for people that were involved in conservation of our heritage and the politics that are involved in speaking up about encroachment and demolitions and actually doing something about it, and my teacher led me to this place. This was a great learning experience for me and the support of my mentor Marvi Mazhar brought in the confidence I needed. I wouldn’t have imagined going out in the streets of the old town by myself and experiencing it with a different perspective. I feel that all the other projects my fellow interns have been up to have given me a great deal of learning as well.”
— Mashaal Amjad

“My time at this internship was a learning curve and helped me develop different views towards our heritage. I uncovered historic, cultural and architectural aspects of Karachi and got a chance to explore my city better than I ever have before. The support and encouragement I received as well as the people I met made me grow and love the field of architecture and design even more. Marvi’s passion for this city is definitely contagious and I found myself appreciating Karachi on a completely different level.”
— Insiya Huzaifa

“The research that I was a part of not only required a large amount information gathering but also effective ways to organize and present it. This was something I believe I greatly benefited from and can utilize in any future projects. Interning here was an experience which taught me about the importance of learning from my peers as well. I can draw upon the knowledge and research methodologies used by others as well as what I learnt personally due to the insightful presentations that we took part in. Visiting many different locations in Old Town made me more aware of the history of a part of the city that I was personally never connected to as much as I would have liked. Along with this I gained a new perspective on areas that I was familiar with. Overall, I think the way in which I approach any project will be improved after having learnt it at PCCC.”
— Hajra Hasan

“Interning for Marvi Mazhar; juggling multiple projects all at once has been as enjoyable as it was demanding. Majority of the work involved extensive research and now, research, even more so comes as a natural progression to me. Marvi’s verve and enthusiasm evident in all the work she does has come off on me and her aspirations for the betterment of this city will hopefully become a reality. By way of the Heritage Walk exploration and the groundwork for the Location-based app, as well as various other projects, I stumbled upon another side to Karachi. From Karachi’s hearty history to the intellectual activities that took/take place in its areas; I now leave with a towering appreciation for Karachi.”
— Rohama Saqib