Azem Palace - Aga Khan Award for Architecture
Aga Khan Development Network

Azem Palace

Azem Palace
Location: Damascus, Syria (West Asia)
Architect: Michel Echochard & Shafiq al-Imam
Client: General Directorate of Antiquities and Museums
Completed: 1965
Site size: 6'400 m²

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Azem Palace Project Brief

One of the masterpieces of 18th century Islamic architecture, this palace was extensively damaged in 1925 when French troops shelled the old quarter of the city during a Syrian uprising. At the time of the award the restoration of the complex (which in 1954 became a folk museum) had been ongoing for 34 years. The work called for extensive research, resourcefulness and imagination. The conservators relied on plans made by the French in the 1920s and on descriptions by members of the Azem family. They had the foresight to purchase for re-use in the reconstructions stones and ornament from other buildings of the same period being demolished to make way for the modern roads being constructed in Damascus. The jury commended the project for being an important one in re-establishing cultural identity and cultural continuity and in developing expertise and artisanal skills. The reconstitution of the Azem Palace has been an important event in the Islamic world, its significance being more than that of a case of restoration.

1983 Award Recipients