Aga Khan Programme for Islamic Architecture at Harvard and MIT
Based at Harvard University and the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT), the Aga Khan Program for Islamic Architecture (AKPIA) is dedicated to the study of Islamic art, architecture and urbanism, landscape design, conservation and the application of that knowledge to contemporary design projects. The goals of the Program are to improve the teaching of Islamic art and architecture; to promote excellence in advanced research; and to enhance the understanding of Islamic architecture, urbanism, and visual culture in light of contemporary theoretical, historical, critical and developmental issues.
AKPIA represents a mutually enriching collaboration between two of the world’s great universities. It offers graduate students and post-doctoral fellows a broad array of intellectual resources within a dynamic and diverse learning community. A core of internationally respected faculty members at Harvard and MIT direct the Program, and share with students their expertise in historic and contemporary aspects of art, architecture and public spaces in Islamic societies.
Founded in 1979, AKPIA is supported by an endowment established by His Highness the Aga Khan.
ArchNet (www.archnet.org) is the most comprehensive digital archive of resources on architecture, urban design and development, and related issues of concern to the Muslim world. It seeks to enable participants to learn how to enhance the quality of the built environment in their communities; to compensate for a lack of resources at their academic institutions; to honour the rich legacy of their cultures; and to celebrate the humanistic traditions of Islam. At the heart of ArchNet is a free and open online architectural library – the world’s largest with a focus on the Muslim world – which is available to members without cost. It draws on the extensive resources of AKPIA at Harvard University and MIT, as well as the collections at the Aga Khan Trust for Culture. Selected materials, reproduced digitally on ArchNet, provide valuable resources and teaching tools for students, educators and professionals, especially those with limited access to architectural publications and research.
Participants from around the world continually add to the bank of on-line resources. ArchNet collaborates with architectural schools to provide institutional workspaces that allow for the sharing of locally based resources and knowledge, including studio work research and publications, across borders and cultures.
The activities of the Trust have generated a series of rich collections which scholars, researchers and students are able to draw upon. The importance all programmes place on detailed documentation has created a knowledge base for those interested in the history of Islamic architecture and art, contemporary architecture in the Muslim world, or in learning from exemplary cases of historic preservation. The AKTC Library also holds the archives of the French architect planner Michel Ecochard, a copy of the archives of Hassan Fathy and a range of country surveys, while the collections of many scholars and institutions are now showcased in digital format on ArchNet.
All the programmes of the Trust disseminate information about their work through a variety of publications, a listing of which can be found at www.akdn.org. A series of CDs and DVDs, which draw on the documentary resources of the Trust and tailor information to specific educational and informational needs are also regularly produced and distributed.
Collaboration with University of Texas
The Memorandum of Understanding signed in April 2008 by the Aga Khan University and the University of Texas at Austin provides for an expansion of the two Universities’ existing programs relating to education and teaching about Muslim Histories and Cultures and identifies a number of other areas for further initiatives, including architecture and human settlement; management, government, public policy and civil society; economic growth and development; education, science and technology; health sciences including joint research and training; and human development.
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