Aleppo, Syria, 6 November 2001- At a ceremony held in Syria at the historical Citadel of Aleppo, His Highness the Aga Khan announced the nine recipients of the 2001 Aga Khan Award for Architecture, and presented a special Chairman’s Award to the Sri Lankan architect Geoffrey Bawa. The occasion completed the eighth cycle of the programme, which has a triennial prize fund of US$ 500,000, making it the world’s largest architectural award. The Award programme will celebrate its twenty-fifth anniversary in 2003.
During the current cycle of the Award, 427 projects were presented for consideration, of which thirty-five were reviewed on site by outside experts. The Master Jury selected nine Award recipients as exemplary representations of architecture that enhances the conditions of life. Informing the Jury’s evaluation of architectural excellence were issues of environmental sustainability, social equality, cultural and historical heritage and identity, and human dignity.
The nine projects selected by the independent Master Jury for the 2001 Award are:
New Life for Old Structures, Various locations, Iran
Aït Iktel, Abadou, Morocco
Kahere Eila Poultry Farming School, Koliagbe, Guinea
Nubian Museum, Aswan, Egypt
SOS Children’s Village, Aqaba, Jordan
Olbia Social Centre, Antalya, Turkey
Bagh-e-Ferdowsi, Tehran, Iran
Datai Hotel, Pulau Langkawi, Malaysia
Some of the Award-winning projects encourage disadvantaged communities to increase productivity, improve their built environment and share access to new opportunities and better communications. The village of Aït Iktel is notable in this regard: a joint effort by people who have benefited from the modern economy and those who have remained in rural conditions, the project demonstrates a way to reverse both the flow of migration from villages to cities and the consequential depletion of local human resources and deterioration of living conditions and the environment. The Barefoot Architects in Tilonia, India, are equally exemplary as beneficiaries of a programme that respectfully augments the traditions and knowledge of a rural community, enabling ‘untutored’ residents to design and build well for themselves.
Several projects respond to educational imperatives, ranging from the need to understand an ancient civilization, as at the Nubian Museum, to the demand for technical instruction in chicken farming, as at the Kahere Eila Poultry Farming School, while a sensitively designed student centre, Olbia Social Centre, links two disparate parts of a university campus to foster interaction among students and faculty. The Jury also selected projects that respond to economic forces, such as tourism, in a way that respects the environment and introduces local culture within the built work, as at the Datai Hotel. Projects that secure the future of historical buildings within towns, as does the New Life for Old Structures programme, and that provide new parks for urban communities, as at Bagh-e-Ferdowsi, represent other important dimensions of the Jury’s decisions. SOS Children’s Village, a complex designed around the principle of well-being for orphaned children and their integration into a larger urban community, was selected because it also places emphasis on the value of vernacular traditions in contemporary architecture and on the incorporation of green spaces into urban settings.
At the Award ceremony in Aleppo, the Aga Khan will present the Chairman’s Award to the Sri Lankan architect Geoffrey Bawa in recognition of his lifetime contribution to the field of architecture. The Chairman’s Award has been presented on only two previous occasions: in 1980 to the Egyptian architect Hassan Fathy, and in 1986 to the Iraqi educator and architect Rifat Chadirji.
The Aga Khan Award for Architecture
The Aga Khan Award for Architecture was established by the Aga Khan in 1977 to identify and encourage building concepts that successfully address the needs and aspirations of Islamic societies. The Award recognizes examples of architectural excellence throughout the Islamic world in the fields of contemporary design, social housing, community improvement and development, restoration, reuse and area conservation, as well as landscape design and improvement of the environment .
The Award is governed by a Steering Committee under the chairmanship of His Highness the Aga Khan. The current members of the Steering Committee are Selma al-Radi, archaeologist (Baghdad and New York); Charles Correa, architect (Mumbai); Kenneth Frampton, architect and architectural historian (New York); Frank O Gehry, architect (Los Angeles); Zaha Hadid, architect (London); Luis Monreal, historian and archaeologist (Barcelona); Azim Nanji, professor of the history of religions (London); Ali Shuaibi, architect (Riyadh); and Suha Özkan, secretary general of the Award.
The Awards are selected by an independent Master Jury appointed by the Steering Committee for each three-year Award cycle. The Master Jury members for the 1999–2001 cycle are Darab Diba, architect (Tehran); Abdou Filali-Ansary, social scientist (Casablanca); Dogan Hasol, architect and publisher (Istanbul); Mona Hatoum, artist (London); Zahi Hawass, archaeologist (Cairo); Ricardo Legorreta, architect (Mexico City and Los Angeles); Glenn Murcutt, architect (Sydney); Norani Othman, sociologist (Kuala Lumpur); and Raj Rewal, architect (New Delhi).
Ceremonies to honour the winning projects and mark the close of each triennial cycle have been held in settings selected for their historical importance to the Muslim world: Shalimar Gardens in Lahore (1980), Topkapi Palace in Istanbul (1983), Badi’ Palace in Marrakech (1986), the Citadel of Saladin in Cairo (1989), Registan Square in Samarkand (1992), Karaton Surakarta in Solo (1995) and the Alhambra in Granada (1998).
A monograph on the 2001 Award will be published by Thames & Hudson in November 2001. Entitled Modernity and Community: Architecture in the Islamic World, the book includes full descriptions and illustrations of the nine winning projects, as well as essays by Kenneth Frampton and Charles Correa. A feature essay on the work of Geoffrey Bawa, by David Robson, includes photographic portfolios by Hélène Binet and Christian Richters.
Complementary Projects of the Aga Khan Trust for Culture and the Aga Khan Development Network
The Award is part of the Aga Khan Trust for Culture, which coordinates the cultural activities of the Aga Khan Development Network.
The Trust’s Historic Cities Support Programme pursues cultural and rehabilitation activities in Syria, Egypt, Zanzibar, Northern Pakistan and Bosnia. At present, it is completing Al-Azhar Park, a 30-hectare public garden near the historical centre of Cairo, as well as physical restoration and social development projects in the adjoining Darb Al-Ahmar district.
Another current initiative, undertaken by the Trust’s Education and Culture Programme in conjunction with the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, has launched ArchNet (www.archnet.org), an Internet-based network that will provide students and professionals with a globally accessible resource on architecture, urban design and related issues, such as restoration, conservation and housing design and construction.
The Trust’s most recent programme is the Aga Khan Music Initiative, a project for the preservation and promotion of traditional music in greater Central Asia. The long-term goal of the Initiative is to revitalize the study and performance of traditional Central Asian music. It includes an ambitious programme of concerts and festivals led by Yo-Yo Ma and the Silk Road Ensemble who, over the next two years, will perform works commissioned from composers in Kazakhstan, Tajikistan, Iran, Uzbekistan, Azerbaijan, Mongolia and China.
The Aga Khan Development Network is a group of private international development agencies created by the Aga Khan, Imam (spiritual leader) of the Ismaili Muslims. The Network represents a contemporary endeavour of the Ismaili Imamat to realize the social conscience of Islam through institutional action. Philosophically, the Network is grounded in Islam’s ethic of inclusiveness, compassion, sharing, self-reliance, respect for health and life, the cultivation of a sound and enlightened mind, and humankind’s collective responsibility for sustainable physical, social and cultural environments. Network agencies have mandates that range from the fields of health, education and rural development to the enhancement of non-governmental organizations and the promotion of private-sector enterprise. They are currently working to improve living conditions and opportunities in countries on four continents.
The Network’s most recent initiative, created through a treaty signed with the governments of the Republic of Kazakhstan, the Kyrgyz Republic and Tajikistan, is the establishment of the University of Central Asia, the world’s first university expressly dedicated to education and research on mountain regions and societies. The University is a private, secular, coeducational institution serving the needs of some 25 million people, many of whom gain their livelihoods on mountain ranges along the old Silk Road stretching from Western China to the Southern Caucasus. The University of Central Asia will foster research on issues critical to the sustainable development of mountain societies and the physical settings in which they are located.