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1998 Cycle Master Jury statement

Master Jury statement

The nine members of the Master Jury for the Aga Khan Award for Architecture met three times to select the winners from the 424 projects that were presented. Out of these, 24 projects were reviewed on site by a team of 12 distinguished reviewers whose presentations brought to the Jury the many complex aspects of each project.

From the beginning of its deliberations, the Jury was concerned with recognising projects that had a wider global context and meaning, as well as with identifying those projects that had regional relevance. It was also concerned not to duplicate messages conveyed through selections by earlier juries, so that the absence of certain types of work needs to be understood in that spirit.

The Jury searched for projects which respond creatively to the new crisis situations in the world in general today and in the Muslim world in particular: demographic pressure, environmental degradation, globalisation, standardisation, ethnic tensions, crisis of the nation state and the struggle for democracy and human rights, and the like. This search was related to community rebuilding, on the one hand, and to the development of vital vernacular modern styles on the other. The Jury recognised that major social, economic and political changes are taking place in the world today, and that the countries of the Islamic world are being profoundly affected by these changes. They are developing new life styles, cultural values, symbols and aspirations. The relationships between classes and groups are changing, as well as those between governments and the people at large. Except for social projects, an architecture that reflects these new realities has yet to be recognised and the Award as a result of its history is an ideal position to initiate this discourse.

Seven projects were selected for the Award. Two were seen to have qualities that could be of relevance to a larger world-wide (global) context: The Hebron Conservation effort as well as the Indore Slum networking project were considered exceptional in ways that are a departure from the conventional approach to upgrading. Both shared the idea of reclaiming community space from growing social and physical environmental degradation. In the case of Hebron, the project was initiated and managed by a community under siege.

Two projects were seen to respond in an exceptional way to specific social and environmental conditions. The Salinger house, an example of excellent architecture, uses local materials and skills to create a spatial vocabulary which is contemporary and yet not alienated from its specific cultural context. The Lepers Hospital, on the other hand, is sensitively designed to respond to the needs of the outcasts of society, providing them with shelter and hope while using minimum resources. Its architectural form is unpretentious to the extreme. Its proportions and concepts are, however, of the highest order.

Three projects, the Tuwaiq Palace, the Alhamra Arts Council, and the Vidhan Bhavan, were important and large-scale public buildings. Their form and context, within the Islamic world, was regarded by the Jury as very significant in the continuous process of evolving a contemporary architectural vocabulary. Their public functions and the relatively large scale of their volumes inevitably added to their importance as social catalysts within their societies.