Awards Received - Aga Khan Historic Cities Programme
Aga Khan Development Network

Awards Received

The Historic Cities Programme (HCP) has won a number of awards for its work, including UNESCO Asian-Pacific Heritage awards and British Airways Tourism for Tomorrow Awards. Please also see other awards received by other AKDN agencies and programmes.

HCP in AfghanistanBabur's Garden in Kabul is part of a much larger AKTC programme of revitalisation that encompasses the restoration of the mausoleum of Timur Shah and the rehabilitation of many historic buildings in Asheqan wa Arefan. A F G H A N I S T A N
AKTC Receives 2008 UNESCO Asia-Pacific Heritage Award of Excellence for Work in Herat, Afghanistan
The Malik Cistern in Herat is part of a broad pro- gramme of revitalisation and conservation undertaken by the Aga Khan Trust for Culture.The Aga Khan Trust for Culture's work in the restoration of Herat, Afghanistan, has received a 2008 UNESCO Asia-Pacific Heritage Award of Excellence. UNESCO selected the project for demonstrating "the important role of cultural revitalization as an integral part of the process towards establishing normalcy in a post-conflict situation. The restoration works display a high level of craftsmanship and a commitment to the use of traditional materials, leading to a positive impact in reviving the traditional construction system as well as local building trades. The community-led project has clarified the reading of the historic cityscape, strengthened the social fabric, and renewed Herats spirit of place. Another Trust project, the Shigar Historic Settlements and Bazaar Area, in Baltistan, Pakistan, received an Award of Merit.

AKTC Receives TIME Magazine's "Best of Asia" Award for Revitalisation of Bagh-e Babur in Kabul, Afghanistan
Following the 2005 Best of Asia award for restoration of the Baltit Fort in Hunza, Pakistan (the Fort graced the cover of TIME Asia), the Aga Khan Trust for Culture has now been awarded another Best of Asia award for its restoration of Babur's Gardens in Kabul, Afghanistan. From the citation: "When the Aga Khan Trust for Culture, in collaboration with the Deutsches Archäologisches Institut, began to restore the gardens in 2002, they decided to honor Babur's original instructions. His grave now lies open to the sky, encircled by a delicate, carved marble screen and surrounded by fruit trees full of songbirds. The rest of the 4.5-hectare garden, which once served as a temporary refuge for civilians displaced by war, has been returned to its former glory. The complex system of water canals that channel rainfall from the surrounding hills has been rebuilt, turning the sere hillside into a verdant oasis. Graceful saplings have replaced the great chinar trees that were felled for firewood, and the fountains burble once again with clean water. There are even plans to turn the elegant European pavilion built by Amir Abdur Rahman Khan in the late 1800s into a restaurant. On Fridays, the start of the Muslim weekend, the gardens are thronged with picnicking families who come to enjoy classical concerts much like the performances that enhanced the former Emperor's idylls. Finally, one can see why Babur wanted this to be his last resting place." For more information, please see TIME magazine's site or view HCP activities in Afghanistan.

Shigar Fort after restoration. P A K I S T A N
AKTC Receives 2011 UNESCO Award for Culture Heritage Conservation
The restoration of Altit Fort in Hunza, in Pakistan Gilgit-Baltistan province, an Aga Khan Trust for Culture project undertaken by the Aga Khan Cultural Service, received an Award of Distinction at the 2011 UNESCO Asian-Pacific Awards for Cultural Heritage Conservation. For more information, please see the press release.

2010 UNESCO Award of Distinction for Community-based Restoration in Pakistan
The Gulabpur Khanqah in Shigar valley, Skardu, Baltistan, was recently awarded the 2010 Asia-Pacific Award of Distinction in Cultural Heritage by UNESCO. For nine consecutive times, the Aga Khan Trust for Culture (AKTC) has won a UNESCO Asia Pacific Cultural Heritage Award for its conservation efforts in Pakistan’s Gilgit-Baltistan province. For more information, please see the press release.

Shigar Fort Residence in Pakistan Receives Responsible Tourism Award
The Shigar Fort Restoration Project received the 2008 Virgin Holidays "Best for conservation of cultural heritage" Award.The Shigar Fort Residence, which was restored by the Aga Khan Trust for Culture (AKTC) and which is now operated as a small hotel by the Serena Hotels (a company of the Aga Khan Fund for Economic Development), has received the Virgin Holidays Responsible Tourism Award in the "Best for conservation of cultural heritage category. From the citation: "For the sensitive restoration of this historic building and its development as a hotel which has placed the property once again at the heart of the community as a cultural and economic asset bringing employment, microenterprise opportunities, and social and cultural empowerment for local men and women." For more information, please see Virgin Holidays Responsible Tourism Awards. Please also see information on the restoration work undertaken by AKTC and on the Serena Hotels website.

Shigar Fort Residence Receives 2006 UNESCO Award of Excellence
The Shigar Fort Palace (in Skardu in the Northern region of Pakistan) has been honoured with the Award of Excellence in the 2006 UNESCO Asia Pacific Heritage Awards for Culture Heritage Conservation. The Shigar Fort has been converted, through adpative re-use, into a small hotel. From the commendation: “The Award of Excellence winner, Shigar Fort Palace (Skardu, Northern Areas, Pakistan) was commended for setting a high-profile precedent for a sustainable modern reuse of heritage structures in Pakistan. The adaptation into a boutique hotel has strategically capitalized on the complex’s authentic local architecture and dramatic setting in the Karakoram mountains to create a unique destination for visitors. Through a holistic community development approach, multiplier effects from the project have benefited the local villagers in form of job creation, upgrade of shared infrastructure and water supply, and renewed pride in the area’s rich crafts and intangible heritage traditions.” For more information, please see the announcement. See also the Project Brief: "Baltistan and Hunza: Conservation and Development Projects".

2006 PATA GOLD Award for Heritage and Culture to Shigar Fort Restoration
The Pacific Asia Travel Association (PATA) announced the winners of the 2006 PATA Gold Awards on 17 February of this year. The restoration and re-use of Shigar Fort Palace by the Aga Khan Cultural Service Pakistan won a Gold Award in the Heritage and Culture category. The winners will receive their awards during the 55th PATA Annual Conference in Pattaya, Thailand, April 23-27, 2006. For more information, please see the PATA website.

UNESCO 2005 Asia Pacific Heritage Conservation Award of Merit
The Amburiq Mosque, the first mosque built in Baltistan, received a UNESCO 2005 Asia Pacific Heritage Conservation Award of Merit. The project was praised for its "sensitive conservation programme which was undertaken by the Aga Khan Cultural Services of Pakistan. The building and its courtyard have now been returned to modern use as a community museum, giving renewed life to one of the region’s historically and socially significant structures". For more information, please see the UNESCO site.

Time Magazine Asia: 2005 Best of Asia Award
The restoration of Baltit Fort in the Hunza Valley of Pakistan appeared on the cover of Time Magazine (27 June 2005, Asian edition) in a roundup of the "Best of Asia". It won the "Best Restored Treasure". Time said that "seven hundred years' worth of earthquakes, avalanches and neglect had turned it into a rubble-strewn heap, prompting the Mir to turn it over to the Aga Khan Trust for Culture in 1989. The charitable foundation embarked on a restoration, which took six years and more than $3 million - and the results are stunning." For more information, please see Time Magazine Best of Asia.

Baltit Fort2004 UNESCO Asia-Pacific Heritage Conservation Award for Excellence
From the citation: “The restoration of the majestic 700-year-old Baltit Fort exemplifies excellence in conservation practice applied to large-scale monuments. This challenging project was the first of its kind in northern Hunza. By demonstrating that historic structures can be saved, restored and recycled for continued use in the community, the Baltit Fort project is a model for the revitalization of historic structures throughout the northern regions of Pakistan. In this project, the historic wood and masonry structure was carefully repaired using a combination of traditional local knowledge and state-of-the-art conservation techniques. The fort's restoration has fostered the local revival of traditional building trades, while an associated handicrafts project provides improved livelihood opportunities in the area. In its new use as a cultural centre and museum, the Baltit Fort attracts thousands of visitors to the province and has contributed to reinvigorating the local community's pride in their heritage.” For more information, please see 2004 Awards on the UNESCO site.

2003 UNESCO Asia-Pacific Heritage Conservation Award for the astana (historic tomb) of Syed Mir Muhammad in Khanqha Settlement
From the award citation: "noteworthy restoration of the 300-year old mausoleum... which returns an important architectural and community landmark to its former prominence in the northern Pakistan highland settlement of Khaplu. The building’s aged patina and historic character have been carefully retained through skillful and sensitive conservation techniques." The Awards are designed to "recognize the efforts and contributions of individuals and organisations within the private sector, including private-public partnerships, who have successfully restored and conserved structures and buildings of heritage value in the Asia-Pacific region". For more information, please see the 2003 Awards on the UNESCO site.

2002 UNESCO Asia-Pacific Heritage Conservation Award for the Ganish settlement projects
From the award citation: “The restoration of four 300-year old wooden mosques in the Hunza Valley has successfully revitalized the village “chataq”, the traditional public heart of the Ganish historic settlement. Initiated and undertaken by the villagers, with professional guidance, the project has rebuilt community spirit in an authentic rural village which has undergone major socio-economic change and natural disasters over the years.

"The restrained conservation approach has stabilized the buildings which were in danger of collapse, while retaining the rich historic patina and showcasing the intricate detailing of the structures. Modern materials were selectively incorporated alongside the use of traditional materials and techniques. The preservation of the surrounding buildings and infrastructural improvements was sensitively executed, consequently strengthening the traditional urban fabric while upgrading the quality of life of the residents. The project presents an outstanding example of a community-led initiative strategically facilitated by outside support.” For more information, please see the UNESCO website.

British Airways Tourism for Tomorrow Award: Global Winner for 2000
From the citation: "The Aga Khan Trust for Culture has restored the prime historic landmark of the 700 year old Baltit Fort on the terraced slopes in Hunza, in Northern Pakistan. The main theme of the project is to preserve this setting despite natural decay and the inevitable impact of recent changes, such as urbanisation which has begun to threaten the integrity of the built heritage. The Fort is now a museum and cultural centre. Moreover, culturally and environmentally compatible small enterprises are being promoted which provide gift items, local woollen rugs and hand-knotted vegetable dye carpets for visitors.

“These activities are playing a major part in reinvigorating the traditional community spirit and restoring the residents' pride of their heritage. A self-paying waste management project has been set up to safely dispose of human waste and garbage. The project now attracts over 20,000 visitors, half of which are from outside the country. Access to the Fort is limited to pedestrians and only 25 visitors are allowed at any one time. To reduce the pressure on the environment there is a break from tourists during the 4-5 months of winter.”

The Aga Khan Trust for Culture received the Travel + Liesure 2005 Global Vision Award for Innovation. E G Y P T
Azhar Park Selected One of World's Best Places
The Project for Public Places selected Azhar Park as one of 60 of the "World's Best Places". The Project for Public Places, which works to help "people turn their public spaces into vital community places" has selected Azhar Park as one of the "60 of the World's Best Places". From its citation: "Why It Works? In transforming such a large part of Cairo, which was for so long used as an open dump, the impact of Al-Azhar Park on the city is tremendous. It has been planned with a multitude of activities in mind and incorporates a conceptualised hilltop lookout kiosk, a children's play area, an amphitheatre and stage, playing fields, a viewing plaza and a historical wall promenade." For more information, please see the Project for Public Spaces website.

Azhar Park Receives Travel + Liesure 2005 Global Vision Innovation Award
The Aga Khan Trust for Culture received the Travel + Liesure 2005 Global Vision Award for Innovation. From the citation: "Our judges were drawn to the extraordin-arily multifaceted approach of this project: Al-Azhar provides leisure and recreational space to a city that has little; acts as an engine of social and economic development for neighboring residents; and is a catalyst for historic preservation. In a city where the amount of green space per resident was roughly the size of a footprint, Al-Azhar is a much-needed green lung for Cairo's 17 million inhabitants... Al- Azhar has proven to be one of the most significant urban renewal efforts in recent history." Find out more on Azhar Park.

AKTC Receives 2008 Prince Sultan bin Salman Award for Urban Heritage
On 24th June, 2008, during a ceremony presided over by HRH Prince Khaled al-Faisal, Governor of the Makkah region, and in the presence of HRH Prince Sultan bin Salman, the Lifetime Achievement Award of the second cycle of the “Prince Sultan bin Salman Award for Urban Heritage” was presented to the Aga Khan Trust for Culture for “AKTC’s widely recognised efforts in attending to urban heritage through many venues and activities” (Award citation). The Urban Heritage Award was created because "urban heritage conservation is a national necessity as it represents the identity of the society and the originality of its history," according to the organisers. "The Kingdom of Saudi Arabia has witnessed a boom that covered all aspects of life accompanied by a large expansion of Saudi cities with unrestricted openness to the various continental architectural styles. Consequently, a lot of the traditional urban heritage was lost. These dramatic changes have necessitated taking instant and effective steps to protect the national urban heritage, and make use of its qualities to lay a solid foundation for deep-rooted architecture inseparable from the past taking into consideration the absorption of modern technologies in a reasonable way that ensures such kind of blending without surpassing heritage fundamentals.

For other Awards received by AKDN programmes, please see Awards.