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The Aga Khan Award for Architecture

The Aga Khan Award for Architecture (AKAA) is presented every three years to projects that set new standards of excellence in architecture, planning practices, historic preservation and landscape architecture. Through its efforts, the Award seeks to identify and encourage building concepts that successfully address the needs and aspirations of societies across the world, in which Muslims have a significant presence.

The selection process emphasizes architecture that not only provides for people’s physical, social, and economic needs, but that also stimulates and responds to their cultural expectations. Particular attention is given to building schemes that use local resources and appropriate technology in innovative ways, and to projects likely to inspire similar efforts elsewhere.

The current prize fund totals $1 million and is presented to projects selected by an independent Master Jury. Documentation has been compiled on over 9,000 building projects throughout the world. To date, 122 projects have received the Aga Khan Award for Architecture.

Aga Khan Award for Architecture 2019 Introduction

The 2019 Award Winners

REVITALIZATION OF MUHARRAQ (BAHRAIN)

The Project, which highlights the World Heritage site’s pearling history, was first initiated as a series of restoration and reuse projects. The project evolved into a comprehensive program that aimed to re-balance the city’s demographic makeup by creating public spaces, providing community and cultural venues, and improving the overall environment.

ARCADIA EDUCATION PROJECT (BANGLADESH)

The Project is a modular structure that takes a novel approach to a riverine site that is often flooded for five months every year. Rather than disrupting the ecosystem to create a mound for building, the architect devised the solution of an amphibious structure that could sit on the ground or float on the water, depending on seasonal conditions.

PALESTINIAN MUSEUM (PALESTINE)

The Project in Birzeit, which crowns a terraced hill overlooking the Mediterranean, is the recipient of the LEED Gold certification because of its sustainable construction. The zigzagging forms of the Museum’s architecture and hillside gardens are inspired by the surrounding agricultural terraces, stressing the link with the land and Palestinian heritage.

PUBLIC SPACES DEVELOPMENT PROGRAM (RUSSIAN FEDERATION)

This program has improved 328 public spaces all over Tatarstan thus far. It seeks to counter the trend toward private ownership by refocusing priorities on quality public spaces for the people of Tatarstan. It has now become a model throughout the Russian Federation.

ALIOUNE DIOP UNIVERSITY TEACHING AND RESEARCH UNIT (SENEGAL)

This project addressed a scarcity of resources leading to the use of bioclimatic strategies, includes a large double roof canopy and latticework that avoids solar radiation but allows air to flow through it. By employing familiar construction techniques and following sustainability principles, it succeeded in keeping costs and maintenance demands to a minimum.

WASIT WETLAND CENTER (UAE)

Wasit Wetland Centre, in Sharjah, is a design that transformed a wasteland into a wetland and functioned as a catalyst for biodiversity and environmental education. While its indigenous ecosystem has been restored, it has also proven to be a popular place for visitors to appreciate and learn about their natural environment.

His Highness the Aga Khan

His Highness the Aga Khan, the Founder and Chairman of the Aga Khan Development Network (AKDN), is the 49th hereditary Imam (spiritual leader) of the Shia Imami Ismaili Muslims. He became Imam on July 11, 1957, while still a student at Harvard University, succeeding his grandfather, Sir Sultan Mahomed Shah Aga Khan.

Over the course of their 1400 year history, Ismaili Imams and their communities have made major contributions to the cultural, religious, and intellectual life of Muslims. These include the founding of the University of Al-Azhar in Cairo, and indeed, the city of Cairo itself, which was founded by the Aga Khan’s ancestors in the tenth century. More recently, he has founded the international Aga Khan University, and the University of Central Asia, which has campuses in three countries.

About the Award for Architecture

History of the Award

Recalling the historical significance of architecture in the Islamic world, His Highness the Aga Khan wished to restore the discipline to its former prominence and relevance, to address the neglect of its cultural sites, and the dilution of its Muslim identity. In his own words: “The purpose of the Award when it was first launched was to help renew one of the world’s great cultural legacies, the rich traditions of Islamic architecture. Those traditions were being lost, we feared, amid a rush of modernizing, westernizing enthusiasms — depriving people everywhere of the insights, intuitions, and the idioms of some of the richest cultures in world history.”

Established in 1977, the Aga Khan Award for Architecture is presented every three years to projects that set new standards of excellence in architecture, planning practices, historic preservation and landscape architecture. Through its efforts, the Award seeks to identify and encourage building concepts that successfully address the needs and aspirations of societies across the world, in which Muslims have a significant presence. The 14th cycle of the Aga Khan Award for Architecture was completed in 2019. Since the award’s inception, 122 projects have been honored. The prize fund currently stands at $1 million.

The Award’s mandate is unique, in that it selects projects – from slum upgrading to high-rise “green” buildings – that not only exhibit architectural excellence but also improve the overall quality of life. The Award not only rewards architects, but also identifies municipalities, builders, clients, master artisans and engineers who have played important roles in the realization of a project.

Aga Khan Development Network

The Aga Khan Development Network (AKDN) brings together a number of development agencies, institutions, and programs that work primarily in the poorest parts of Asia and Africa. AKDN programs seek to address the following areas: strengthening civil society; respect for the environment; gender equality; promoting pluralism; improving the quality of life, sustainable solutions; and poverty alleviation. AKDN employs 80,000 people, reaches

2 million students, and provides healthcare to 5 million people annually.

Previous Winners

Winners reflect a diverse representation of a broad definition of architecture, including The Old City of Jerusalem, the Petronas Towers in Kuala Lumpur, The Arab World Institute in Paris, the Bibliotheca Alexandrina in Alexandria, Egypt, a pedestrian bridge in Tehran, and the Soekarno-Hatta Airport in Jakarta, Indonesia. Less imposing structures have also been honored, such as an orphanage in Jordan, The Leper’s Hospital in India, a children’s library in China, and a poultry-farming school in Guinea.

For more information, please visit www.akdn.org/architecture

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