On 4 September 2007, at a ceremony held in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia, His Highness the Aga Khan announced the nine recipients of the 2007 Aga Khan Award for Architecture. Founded in 1977, the Award marked its 30th anniversary this year, and the completion of the 10th cycle of the programme.
The Aga Khan Award for Architecture has a triennial prize fund of US$ 500,000, making it the world’s largest architectural award. The rigor of its nomination and selection process has also made it, in the eyes of many observers, the world’s most important architectural prize. Awarded projects have ranged from the Petronas Towers in Kuala Lumpur to a primary school in Bangladesh.
“The essence of the Aga Khan Award for Architecture is to examine, analyse, understand, and try to influence the dynamic of physical change in Islamic societies,” His Highness the Aga Khan has remarked. “Our attempt and aspiration is to try to have the humility, but also the competence, to understand what is happening and to seek to influence it so that future generations can live in a better environment.”
During the current cycle of the Award, 343 projects were presented for consideration, and 27 were reviewed on site by international experts. An independent Master Jury selected nine Award recipients that are notable for having attained the highest standards of architectural excellence while reflecting the values of their specific environments.
The nine projects selected by the 2007 Award Master Jury are:
- Samir Kassir Square, Beirut, Lebanon
- Rehabilitation of the City of Shibam, Yemen
- Central Market, Koudougou, Burkina Faso
- University of Technology Petronas, Bandar Seri Iskandar, Malaysia
- Restoration of the Amiriya Complex, Rada, Yemen
- Moulmein Rise Residential Tower, Singapore
- Royal Netherlands Embassy, Addis Ababa, Ethiopia
- Rehabilitation of the Walled City, Nicosia, Cyprus
- School in Rudrapur, Dinajpur, Bangladesh
With its emblematic high-tech architecture, the University of Technology Petronas provides an inspiring structure for progressive education in this rapidly developing nation. The Award will be presented to the architects, Foster + Partners and GDP Architects, and the Petronas Corporation (the Petronas Towers won an Award in the 2004 cycle).
In 1979, the representatives of the Greek Cypriot and Turkish Cypriot communities held a historic meeting under United Nations auspices to create a master plan for the Rehabilitation of the Walled City of Nicosia. A collaborative and sustained effort, the project has been successful in reversing the city’s physical and economic decline, using architectural restoration and reuse as the catalyst for improvement to the quality of life on both sides of this divided city. The representatives of the Greek Cypriot and Turkish Cypriot communities will share the Award with the Nicosia Master Plan team.
The Samir Kassir Square is a restrained and serene urban public space that skilfully handles the conditions and infrastructure of its location in a city that has undergone rapid redevelopment. The Award will go to Vladimir Djurovic, the pre-eminent landscape architect working in Lebanon today.
The Rehabilitation of the City of Shibam is part of a project that focuses on the preservation of this unique place as a living community, with architectural restoration integrated into the creation of new economic and social structures. The Award recipients are the Yemeni government and its cultural agencies, the German Technical Cooperation (GTZ) and the community of Shibam.
Koudougou’s Central Market introduces simple improvements to a traditional material - stabilised earth - to create an important space for civic exchange and economic opportunity, helping enhance and strengthen a mid-sized town in Burkina Faso. The Award will be shared by the Koudougou Municipality, the Swiss Agency for Development and Cooperation (SDC), the principal architect, Laurent Séchaud; and Pierre Jéquier, consultant.
With its reliance on local knowledge and experience, the Restoration of the Amiriya Complex in Yemen saw the revival of lost techniques of building and ornamentation. The project represents a milestone in the protection of cultural heritage in Yemen. The Award will be presented to the project directors, renowned Iraqi archaeologist and restorer Selma Al-Radi and her Yemeni counterpart, Yahya Al-Nasiri.
Within the constraints of a developer-driven brief, the Moulmein Rise Residential Tower uses innovative techniques and detailing that combine new principles for tropical design and improvements for high-rise living. Wong Mun Summ and Richard Hassell, partners at the Singapore firm WOHA Architects will receive the Award.
The guiding principle in the construction of the Royal Netherlands Embassy in Addis Ababa was a respect for place while addressing the functional requirements of a working embassy, resulting in a contemporary structure that fully engages its local environment. The Dutch architects Dick van Gameren and Bjarne Mastenbroek will receive the Award, together with the Ethiopian architects at the firm ABBA Architects.
Hand-built in four months by the local community and volunteer architects from Germany and Austria, the School in Rudrapur, Bangladesh, makes use of easily available local materials to create a new model for school construction that is beautiful, simple and humane. The architects Anna Heringer and Eike Roswag will share the Award with the craftsmen and volunteers who assisted in the building, and the Bangladeshi NGO for sustainable rural development, Dipshikha.
The 2007 Master Jury placed an emphasis on the meaningful collaborations and exchange of ideas - between architects, craftsmen, governments, international development agencies, clients and users - that were a defining feature of the winning projects (please see Statement of the Master Jury).
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 Muslim societies. The Award recognises examples of architectural excellence in all the places where Muslims live, in the fields of contemporary design, social housing, community improvement and development, historic preservation, reuse and area conservation, as well as landscape design and improvement of the environment.
The Award is governed by a Steering Committee chaired by His Highness the Aga Khan. The current members of the Steering Committee are Omar Akbar (Executive Director, Bauhaus Dessau Foundation); Jacques Herzog (Partner, Herzog & de Meuron Architects, Basel); Glenn Lowry (Director, The Museum of Modern Art, New York); Mohsen Mostafavi (Dean of the College of Architecture, Art and Planning, Cornell University, New York); Farshid Moussavi (Partner, Foreign Office Architects, London); Hani Rashid (Partner, Asymptote Architecture, New York); Modjtaba Sadria (Professor, Institute for the Study of Muslim Civilisations-AKU, London); and Billie Tsien (Partner, Tod Williams Billie Tsien Architects, New York). Farrokh Derakhshani is the Director 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 2004-2007 cycle are Homi Bhabha (Professor, Harvard University); Okwui Enwezor (Curator; Dean of Academic Affairs and Senior Vice President, San Francisco Art Institute); Homa Farjadi (Principal, Farjadi Architects, London); Sahel Al-Hiyari (Principal, Sahel Al-Hiyari and Partners, Jordan); Shirazeh Houshiary (Artist); Rashid Khalidi (Professor, Columbia University, New York); Brigitte Shim (Partner, Shim Sutcliffe Architects, Toronto); Han Tümertekin (Principal, Mimarlar Tasarim Danismanlik Ltd, Istanbul); and Kenneth Yeang (Principal, Llewelyn Davies Yeang, UK and Hamzah & Yeang, Malaysia).
Ceremonies to announce the winning projects and mark the close of each triennial cycle have been held in settings selected for their architectural and cultural 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), the Alhambra in Granada (1998), the Citadel of Aleppo (2001) and the gardens of Emperor Humayun’s Tomb in Delhi (2004).
A monograph on the 2007 Award will be published by I.B. Tauris & Co in September 2007. The book, Intervention Architecture: Building for Change includes concise descriptions and illustrations of the nine winning projects, an introductory essay by Homi K. Bhabha, as well as contributions from Omar Akbar, Homa Farjadi, Sahel Al-Hiyari, Shirazeh Houshiary, Mohsen Mostafavi, Farshid Moussavi, Modjtaba Sadria, Brigitte Shim, Billie Tsien and Kenneth Yeang.
About His Highness the Aga Khan and the Aga Khan Trust for Culture
His Highness the Aga Khan, Imam (Spiritual Leader) of the Shia Imami Ismaili Muslims, marked the beginning of his Golden Jubilee year on 11th July 2007. Fifty years ago, at the age of 20, the Aga Khan succeeded his grandfather, Sir Sultan Mahomed Shah Aga Khan, as the 49th hereditary Imam of the Shia Imami Ismaili Muslims. The Aga Khan provides spiritual guidance to a community of 15 million living in some 25 countries, mainly in West and Central Asia, Africa and the Middle East, as well as in North America and Western Europe. As Spiritual Leader of the Ismaili Muslims, the Aga Khan has emphasised the view of Islam as a thinking, spiritual faith, one that teaches compassion and tolerance and that upholds the dignity of man, Allah’s noblest creation. The Aga Khan is a direct descendant of the Prophet Muhammad (peace be upon him) through his cousin and son-in-law, Ali, the first Imam, and his wife Fatima, the Prophet’s daughter.
The Aga Khan Award for Architecture is part of the Aga Khan Trust for Culture (AKTC), which has a wide range of activities aimed at the preservation and promotion of the material and spiritual heritage of Muslim societies. As the cultural agency of the Aga Khan Development Network (AKDN), the Trust leverages cultural heritage as a means of supporting and catalysing development. Its programmes include the Aga Khan Historic Cities Programme (HCP), which works to revitalise historic cities in the Muslim world, both culturally and socioeconomically. Over the last decade, it has been engaged in the rehabilitation of historic areas in Cairo, Kabul, Herat, Aleppo, Delhi, Zanzibar, Mostar, northern Pakistan, Timbuktu and Mopti. The Aga Khan Music Initiative in Central Asia (AKMICA) supports the efforts of Central Asian musicians and communities to sustain, further develop and transmit musical traditions that are a vital part of their cultural heritage. The Museums Project coordinates the development of a number of museum and exhibition projects, including two ongoing museum projects in Cairo and Toronto. The Trust also supports the Muslim arts and architecture departments of Harvard University and the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT), as well as www.ArchNet.org, a major online resource on Islamic architecture.
The Aga Khan Development Network (AKDN) is a group of private development agencies working to empower communities and individuals, often in disadvantaged circumstances, to improve living conditions and opportunities, especially in Central and South Asia and sub-Saharan Africa. AKDN agencies work for the common good of all citizens, regardless of their gender, origin or religion. Its underlying impulse is the ethic of compassion for the vulnerable in society. Its annual budget for social and cultural development activities is US$320 million. The Aga Khan Fund for Economic Development (AKFED), an AKDN development agency that makes long-term investments in fragile economies on a for-profit basis, has annual revenues of over US$ 1.5 billion. Profits are used to fund further development projects.
For information please contact:
Aga Khan Award for Architecture
PO. Box 2049
1211 Geneva 2
Facsimile: (41.22) 909.72.92
Telephone: (41.22) 909.72.00