KARACHI – Among many other historical buildings in Karachi, is the Lloyd’s Bank building that stands at the end of I.I. Chundrigar Road across from Merewether Tower.
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One of the better-preserved heritage buildings in the city, this century-old building has been central to the business district of Karachi.
But Silk Bank, the current owner of the property, wants to build a multi-story high-rise building on the site and have managed to obtain approval from the Heritage Committee to demolish the building, retaining only the facade.
However, the permission to demolish is in violation of the Heritage Act which requires that the facade be retained only when the rest of the building has collapsed or is irreparable. The area behind the facade where the old building will be demolished will accommodate, among other things, the parking ramp. This new structure will also adversely impact the surroundings of Merewether Tower, another heritage structure.
People and activists have expressed their concerns that if a prominent bank can obtain permission to destroy a perfectly sound and well-preserved heritage building to be reduced to its facade, it will set a precedent which will be devastating for all heritage buildings. “No structure on MA Jinnah Road or anywhere in Saddar will be safe. We will witness a whole scale ‘skinning’ of our heritage architecture,” said Principal Architect at Arif Belgaumi Architects in his Facebook post.