1989 Cycle Cycle Master Jury Statement - Aga Khan Award for Architecture
Aga Khan Development Network

1989 Cycle Cycle Master Jury Statement

The Master Jury for the 1989 Aga Khan Award for Architecture met twice. In January, it considered the 241 projects submitted by the Award's Nominators, and selected thirty-two to b studied in depth by Technical Reviewers. Then, at the end of June, the thirty-two finalists were reviewed on their own merits and in terms of the issues they reflect, the questions they pose, and the messages they send. The decisions which follow are unanimous, because the jury agreed to make it so, but unanimity was not reached for every project and sharp differences remained to the end on projects which are premiated and on some which are not. Throughout its deliberations, the jury sought to listen to all views and to feel respectful of the projects nominated as well of its own very varied opinions. Furthermore, as it discussed the nominations, the jury became aware of needs and opportunities for the architecture affecting Muslims everywhere which had not been as fully visible in previous Awards. The differences within the jury and the new sense of a universal Muslim community have been incorporated in four statements the jury wishes to make before presenting the Awards themselves.

As in the past, the jury congratulates the staff of the Award whose dedication, enthusiasm, humour, kindness and efficiency made the jury's labour a pleasure. It also congratulates the Technical Reviewers, all of whom undertook their uniquely responsible tasks with creative enthusiasm. They have all contributed to the richness and sophistication of the information available to the jury and stored in the offices of the Award. No segment of contemporary architecture anywhere is so wealthy in data and so well cared for.

The overall dimensions of the architecture affecting Muslims have changed enormously since the Award was created twelve years ago, partly perhaps under the impact of the Award itself. Five aspects of these new dimensions struck the jury: better quality of the final products and of the processes leading to them; complexity of the physical, social and economic components of social and community building; fuller coverage of contiguous Muslim regions; awareness of the large Muslim communities within non-Muslim worlds and the enormous increase in the quantity and quality of nominated projects built by Muslims. Each one of these aspects deserves its own lengthy elaboration. We only wish to stress two points. One is that the appearance of several nominations from the Central Asian Republics of the Soviet Union (one of these nominations was short-listed for Technical Review) allows the Award to consider itself now as the only cultural organism which truly reflects all the sub-cultures of the Muslim world. This is a welcome event indeed with considerable long-range importance for the Award. The second point is that the proper evaluation of some of the new schemes and projects for housing upgrading requires longer use than that needed to evaluate single buildings. As a result, we specifically recommend that the next Jury consider anew the East Wahdat scheme in Amman and the Incremental Development Scheme in Hyderabad. Both seemed to the Jury to have considerable merits which need a few more years to be properly appraised, since socially related architecture requires a flexible time frame for the determination of success or failure.

The Jury's decisions reward several of the directions visible in today's architecture in the Muslim world. These decisions should not be seen as an endorsement of all the implications of the projects involved, nor do they imply the rejection of values expressed in projects which were not premiated. Two examples illustrate our point. We discussed at great length the issue of revivalism as a fully thought-out recasting of forms created and used in the past or in vernacular traditions. The premiated projects include only some examples of that particular point of view, and it behoves the Award to acknowledge additional searches for a genuine, intelligent and tasteful revivalism whose mechanisms and values are not yet fully understood in an Islamic context. Thus, this jury salutes the efforts of Nader Ardalan with Iranian architecture and of Sergo Sutyagin with Central Asian architecture who are or have been involved with an interpretation of formal values which should enlighten our understanding of the past and shape the forms of the future.

The second example of novelty lies in the efforts of individual patrons and of non-governmental organisations in premiated projects and in many that are not. We want to emphasise how much these efforts are a welcome component in the mosaic of contemporary architecture which, especially in its social aspect, was dominated by government or international bureaucracies. We are aware, of course, of the dangers of speculation and profiteering associated with some of these private activities, and this is why we add a note of caution to our satisfaction, but the new enthusiasm of the private sector for improving society is most heart-warming. Finally, we wish to add that the message our decisions sends is not one of contradictions, but of simultaneous and parallel activities which identify some, certainly not all, of the aspirations and built forms of Muslim communities. These communities are in so many places and with so many hopes and ambitions that the solutions to their needs are bound to be different from each other.A jury's decision is a judgement of their quality, not necessarily of the ideologies they imply.

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