From the start of her career, Lari had been engaged in the concerns expressed during the 1984 conference for the poor – it was the Angoori Bagh Housing for displaced slum dwellers in Lahore, 1977, which first gained her international recognition. In 2005, compelled by an epiphany caused by a television report on a huge earthquake in the north of Pakistan, Lari began the current stage of her career that responds to the crises of her country – periodic conflict, earthquakes, flooding and other outcomes of global warming alongside constant poverty – which has developed into what she calls “barefoot social architecture”. In this, she wields an approach to construction technology that is concerned with zero-carbon materials such as lime plaster, mud and bamboo; the techniques of their assembly are modified in a reset vernacular that responds to a transforming natural environment. This has been called an architecture of resilience, and was learnt through experience in the field, in destroyed villages and on archaeological sites.
At the same time, her organisational strategies challenge the 20th-century impetus of the production line by their exploitation of the rhizomatic structure of impoverished rural society. Lari’s approach is based in and encourages Pakistan’s pre-existing informal economies, aiming to respond to the needs of those who have nothing, making them self-sufficient. A small amount of training and investment creates community-based entrepreneurship that enables any surplus to be reinvested locally, instead of filling the pockets of remote investors.