The school successfully developed excellence in arts, design. It is fourth private institution of higher education learning in Pakistan with degree awarding status.
Samina Raees Khan: Executive Director of the Indus Valley School of Art and Architecture (IVS)
Interview by: Masroor Afzal Pasha
Photography by: Muhammed Rizwan
Samina Raees Khan, Executive Director of the Indus Valley School of Art and Architecture (IVS) has shared the mission behind the formation of a school of excellence in the area of arts, cultural development and architecture requires for nation building as well as introducing and preserving a rich culture which Pakistan inherit.
The IVS’s Vision 2025 elaborates to impart education in art, design and architecture creating a culture of excellence in research and innovation; contributing towards a just and tolerant society, and enable students to serve as instruments of positive change.
In an age of rapid social, technological and aesthetic transition, we feel committed to educating our students with the ability to analyze and critique experience and to nurture their creative abilities so they become active, outstanding members of our society, both personally and professionally.
We wish to go beyond technical instruction by placing emphasis on creative thoughts and actions. Each department, despite its individual character functions in close collaboration with the others in order to develop an awareness of the essence of the visual arts, both traditional and contemporary. This underlying philosophy is reflected in our curricula. Through an interaction with diverse practising professional artists, architects, academicians, scholars, archaeologists, art historians and designers. Students are exposed to the importance of ideas, concept development, intuition and the value of research in the development of the creative process.
We must not feel content till we succeed in preparing our graduates to live in the world of tomorrow; enabled them to share in the responsibilities for social, economic and political problems, and to apply their professional knowledge and abilities to the solution of such problems, so that besides being technically and aesthetically literate, they are above all, good human beings.
The IVS was founded by the Community in Karachi comprised by a group of professional architects, designers and artists who believed that Karachi needs a school of excellence that should comprise of three faculties in the disciplines of Fine Arts, Design and Architecture. The IVS is offering five-degree programmes, Bachelors in Textile Design; Fashion Design; Communication Design and Architecture which housed two departments: Architecture and Interior Design; Fine Arts four disciplines: Painting, Miniature Painting, Sculpture, Ceramics, Media Art and Print Making (Film & Digital Film). The IVS also offers Short Courses and Diplomas to students in evening programmes.
The IVS reports and works under the guidelines of Higher Education Commission (HEC) while our Architecture Program recognized by the Pakistan Council of Architects and Town Planners (PCATP). The PCATP also provides input in the curriculum of five-year Architecture program.
The IVS also offers arts residencies like an artist recently arrived from University of New South Wales, Australia. Another art expert, Michael Essence who specializes in the drawing of a human body, organized a workshop to help train plastic and reconstructive surgeons for making a human body accordingly like face, hands and other human body parts. Plastic surgeons across Pakistan participated in the workshop in the field of surgery.
The IVS was established by the Community in Karachi comprised by a group of professional architects, designers and artists who believed that this metropolis needs a specialized school for excellence in arts, design and architecture. Firstly, they established IVS Society and later “Indus Valley School of Art and Architecture”, was founded in 1989. The Government of Sindh granted an independent charter to IVS in June 1994, for an independent degree awarding institute. It was the fourth private institution of higher education learning in Pakistan to be given degree awarding status.
There are 10 founding members of IVS including, Mr Arshad Abdulla, Mr Haamid N. Jaffer, Mr Imran Mir, Prof. Inayat Ismail, Ms Noorjehan Bilgrami, Ms Nighat Mir, Mr Shahid Abdulla, Mr Shahid Sajjad, Ms Shehnaz Ismail and Syed Akeel Bilgrami.
The IVS is registered as a not-for-profit, private, degree awarding institute and is managed by an Executive Committee through the Executive Director, under the control of an independent Board of Governors that comprised of distinguished educationists, artists, architects, industrialists, bankers and media persons, in addition to three members nominated by the Government of Sindh. The Governor of Sindh is the Patron-in-chief of the School.
The IVS offers a formal four-year program in Fine Arts and Design and the five-year program in Architecture began in September 1990 with the induction of 45 students. This number has progressively increased, with the current intake of 140 students. The overall student body has grown to over 510. Twenty batches of Fine Art and Design students and 19 batches of Architecture students have graduated.
With the generous support of philanthropists and others, the School acquired a piece of land in KDA Scheme No. 5, Clifton and built its custom-designed campus which became operational in 1994. Shortly afterwards, the School undertook the unique project of relocating a hundred-year-old building that was one of the landmark of Karachi, the Nusserwanjee Building, to the new campus. This building which is part of Karachi’s architectural heritage was dismantled from its original site, stone by stone and was reconstructed at the School Campus. The four-floor East Wing was completed in 2001 while the three-floor West Wing became operational at the end of 2004. The two wings give the School a further 25,000 square feet of space, while additions to the building and interior continue to be made.
The Indus Valley School of Art and Architecture is dedicated to much more than producing technically competent artists, designers and architects. It strives to motivate and guide students to think, be curious, to keep themselves open to the sources of experience and learning, to be politically aware and socially responsive, and take an independent position, respecting knowledge and people of knowledge, with humility.
The IVS students also visited the interior of Sindh for their subject of ‘Craft Documentation’ in Textile Designing in which they work with the help of local craftsmen to learn their techniques and way to make local handicrafts, and fabric designing and at the same time introduce our heritage to others.
On May 1, 1991, when twelve prominent architects of the city, brain-stormed at the Indus Valley School to evolve design criteria for its new campus. The school had just acquired a plot and since it was the first time that a custom designed campus for an Art and Architecture institution was being built in Pakistan, it was expected the brain-storming would generate some fresh, innovative, ideas. Interestingly, however, the consensus at the end of the day, reached, perhaps half in jest, was that an ideal environment for a school of art is in and around an old building and that the School should find such a building and move into it!
Hardly a week later, Shahid Abdulla, one of the founders of the Indus Valley School, excitedly called to say he had found a beautiful old building, right in the heart of Kharadar, which was for sale and about to be demolished. Before one could express one reservation about the location, he quickly added, We will save it and move it to the campus in Clifton.
What he had seen was the hundred-year-old Nusserwanjee Building, a stone structure in two blocks of three and four floor with large halls and high ceilings, originally used as warehouse and offices ideal spaces for art and design studios.
If this building was to be re-installed at the new campus, the school would be able to (i) save it from the inevitable demolition and destruction, (ii) introduce a novel method and an alternative way, to save our architectural heritage, (iii) provide a hands-on, once-in-a-lifetime experience to both the faculty and students, in the area of architectural conservation and, finally, (iv) through this process of giving a fresh lease of life to the building, pay tributes and homage to, and perpetuate the memory of, the Nusserwanjee family, particularly of Jamshed Nusserwanjee Mehta, philanthropist, theosophist, the first mayor, the architect and father of modern Karachi and without doubt, its most outstanding citizen.
The Nusserwanjee Building was originally constructed in 1903 by Jamshed father, Nusserwanjee Rustomji Mehta, as warehouse and offices of Nusserwanjee and Co., a very prosperous trading and manufacturing enterprise. An additional wing was constructed in 1919, using R.C.C. for columns, beams and roof, the latest construction technology then prevalent, and plastered rubble stone and coursed stone masonry. The Nusserwanjee Building price was negotiated with the sellers.
There were numerous suggestions about the various possibilities of dismantling, transportation, conservation etc. Also discussed was the possibility of inviting an expert conservationist through UNESCO or one of the funding agencies. The school, however, in its wisdom, decided to use indigenous means and local know-how.
Detailed documentation of the building was carried out through measured drawings and photographs. Three demolition contractors were invited to offer bids and to suggest the safest and quickest means of dismantling, transporting and storing.
Contractor Haji Mohammed Shah Akram Baloch was selected not only for his lowest bid but for what, understandably, was a very sound dismantling methodology suggested by him. A period of three months was specified for the whole process.
In the meantime, the new campus of the Indus Valley School was designed and constructed, with an appropriate space earmarked for the location of Nusserwanjee Building.
Detailed identification of all the material was done and each stone, piece of timber etc., properly marked prior to the dismantling which commenced in April 1995, stone by stone, piece by piece and completed within three months.
The illiterate demolition contractor with a team of unskilled labour managed to do all this, a mere 50 stones having being broken or damaged out of the 26,000 that were retrieved. The procedure involved the careful removal of each piece of timber and stone which was then tagged permanently for identification, carried to the ground floor, stacked temporarily, loaded on the trucks for transportation to the Clifton site, unloaded and re-arranged according to a given layout.
One has grave doubts if the mortality rate of the stones and other material could have been any less if an expert was to handle the operation!
When complete, the Nusserwanjee Building will provide an additional space of 25,000 square feet. It will house the Architecture, Design and Painting studios and also have an exhibition hall and a gallery to house Indus Valley School permanent art collection.
Although the exterior of the building and most interior spaces would look almost exactly the same as the original, the construction methodology had to be altered to cater to the current building codes. Vertical and horizontal steel sections, (which are encased in masonry during construction), had to be introduced to brace the structure.
Contrary to the popular belief, the cost of relocating the Nusserwanjee building has not been any higher than that of any other similar new institutional building. The school makes no tall claims about the Nusserwanjee Building as an ideal case of architectural conservation or restoration. A modest attempt has been made to relocate a historical building for adaptive re-use in an art school.