The members of the Master Jury for the 2020-2022 Cycle of the Aga Khan Award for Architecture were announced today. The Jury, which independently selects the recipients of the US$ 1 million Award, will convene in January 2022 to select a shortlist from hundreds of nominated projects.
Aga Khan Trust for Culture
A group of senior government officials and experts in India will be visiting 20 historical monuments today to survey the heritage sites. The team members comprise of the state government’s Redevelopment Plan Committee and others from the Aga Khan Trust for Culture (AKTC), which is currently restoring the Qutb Shahi tombs in the city. The officials and experts are undertaking the survey based on a direction by the Telangana High Court, which requested the state Tourism and Culture department’s principal secretary and the historical monuments protection committee to formulate a comprehensive plan to redevelop 27 identified historical monuments, including Golconda Fort and Qutb Shahi tombs, in the state within six weeks. The court made the AKTC part of the committee after a senior counsel brought to the notice of the court AKTC’s expertise in protection and renovation of monuments.
Explorations by the Aga Khan Trust for Culture at the Qutb Shahi Heritage Park have unearthed the remains of a previously excavated mosque, several water-holding structures and artefacts. These were buried underneath the debris and vegetation close to the north of hamam (the mortuary bath) where excavations were held between 1969 and 1971. It appears to have been a residential settlement. Some of the antiques found in the debris during the excavations were glazed pottery, remnants of blue and white porcelain, celandon-ware, glazed ceramic tiles and terracotta figurines — sparking renewed interest and understanding of the heritage site’s archaeological importance. The Quli Qutb Shah Heritage Park comprising the Qutb Shahi Tombs Complex and Deccan Park, is one of the most significant historic medieval necropolises with 70 structures within its complex, encompassing 40 mausoleums, 23 mosques, five step-wells/water structures, a hamam, pavilions, garden structures and walls.
Making Paradise, a group exhibition currently on view on at The Aga Khan Centre Gallery, explores the concept of Eden through art and Islamic Garden design. Curator Esen Kaya says that at the heart of the exhibition’s narrative is the presentation of a film made in 2018 by AKDN depicting the many garden restoration and development projects achieved around the world. She says that crucially, the film conveys His Highness the Aga Khan’s message about the significance of gardens as important spaces that build bridges, bring communities together and act as catalysts for change, particularly in this time of growing nationalism and migration of cultures and identities. The inclusion of this film is to share AKDN’s incredible global portfolio and show how nature is a gift of God, and humankind is responsible for its preservation.
Walled City of Lahore Authority (WCLA) has restored, conserved and rehabilitated four historical houses situated on the southern side of Chowk Wazir Khan. The Aga Khan Trust for Culture started this conservation and rehabilitation project in August 2019 and completed it in May 2021. The conservation project has reclaimed the southern facade of Chowk Wazir Khan through enhancing and improving visual impact of the urban environment. The project was executed following demolition of structures, structural consolidation of foundations and walls, and replacement of deteriorated structural floors and roofing. In addition, new spaces were added, as well as decorative architectural features, lime-based finishes, construction of a new staircase, streetscaping and provision of modern amenities.
Walled City of Lahore Authority (WCLA) in partnership with the Aga Khan Trust for Culture (AKTC) has completed the conservation of the Shah Burj, Waterproofing of Sheesh Mahal Attic Roof, Naulakha Pavilion and the Drainage Improvement in the Shah Burj Section at the Lahore Fort. The conservation of Shah Burj was started in 2017 and included a block of monuments located in the north-western corner of the Lahore Fort. Director General WCLA Kamran Lashari said, "we are proud to have partners like AKTC with us who have international experience in conservation and restoration works. We are thankful to them for bringing back the lost glory of the monuments within the Lahore Fort. This partnership has resulted in many successful projects."
Sabz Burj’s conservation is finishing this month. The project was started four years ago by the Aga Khan Trust for Culture (AKTC) in partnership with Havells India. The tomb still is subtly melancholic, but no longer run-down. “Master craftsmen restored the facade’s missing ornamentation, conservators unearthed the painted ceiling underneath a later cement layer, stone carvers put back the sandstone lattice screens, handmade glazed tiles were put up where those were missing,” says Ujwala Menon from AKTC.
“Pride is important. Losing your history is a catastrophe. It is like a man in the dark. There are no comforting signs of his or her ancestors,” says Salman Beg, former CEO of Aga Khan Cultural Service – Pakistan, about the consequences of losing cultural heritage and the necessity to invest in, preserve and celebrate it.
From Mali to Malaysia, AKHCP’s urban regeneration projects have helped transform historic cities and the lives of countless numbers of people. Overall, AKTC has worked on over 350 restoration and conservation projects in 11 countries, including 11 UNESCO World Heritage Sites, and created 10 major parks and gardens that have been visited by over 50 million people. AKHCP’s work, which has received over 18 major awards and is now recognised as the highest standard in restoration, is also helping shape government policy on the value of historic urban centres and the role of culture in strengthening identity and instilling hope.
For three decades, the Aga Khan Historic Cities Programme has leveraged culture as an integral component of the development equation by using a unique approach to urban regeneration that involves restoration and conservation, the creation of parks and gardens, urban rehabilitation and employment and vocational training programmes. Projects have included 11 World Heritage Sites considered by the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization to be of “outstanding value to humanity”.