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  • Recipients of the ninth cycle of the Award with Prime Minister Dr. Manmohan Singh and His Highness the Aga Khan (last row, left).
    AKDN / Gary Otte
Seven projects receive the 2004 Aga Khan Award for Architecture

New Delhi, India, 27 November 2004 - At a ceremony to be held in India at the gardens of Humayun's Tomb , His Highness the Aga Khan will announce the seven recipients of the 2004 Aga Khan Award for Architecture. 2004 marks the completion of the ninth cycle of the programme, which has a triennial prize fund of US$ 500,000, the world’s largest architectural award.

During the current cycle of the Award, 378 projects were presented for consideration, and twenty-three were reviewed on site by outside experts. An independent Master Jury selected seven Award recipients that are notable for having attained the highest international standards of architectural excellence while reflecting the values of the primarily Muslim societies the projects are intended to serve.

The seven projects selected by the 2004 Award Master Jury are:

Bibliotheca Alexandrina, Alexandria, Egypt
Primary School, Gando, Burkina Faso
Sandbag Shelter Prototypes, various locations
Restoration of Al-Abbas Mosque, Asnaf, Yemen
Old City of Jerusalem Revitalisation Programme, Jerusalem
B2 House, Ayvacik, Turkey
Petronas Towers, Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia

Two of the projects - Bibliotheca Alexandrina in Egypt and the Petronas Towers in Malaysia - are the results of important international architectural competitions for high-profile landmark buildings.

A third project - the Sandbag Shelter Prototypes- is an experiment for self-built housing that employs earth-filled sandbags stacked atop each other to form domed and vaulted spaces.

The provision of housing is an important aspect of the Old City of Jerusalem Revitalization Programme that also includes components for the restoration of historic monuments and for the creation of public and community facilities, schools, and playgrounds.

The Primary School in Gando, Burkina Faso, goes far beyond its educational programme and exemplifies highest-calibre architectural design employing locally available materials and techniques, training, and community participation and empowerment.

B2 House, located in a small village on the Mediterranean coast of Turkey, extends architectural design to a poetic level, establishing dialogue between nature and building, inside and outside, and public and private.

The Restoration of Al-Abbas Mosque in Yemen represents attainment of the highest standards of restoration and conservation while, at the same time, investigating the nature and contemporary importance of a sacred site.

Reinforcing the architectural excellence of the seven winning projects is the written statement of the Master Jury, which reveals the comprehensive approach adopted to discover, understand and explain the challenges of architecture in the Muslim world as it confronts modernity in all its diversity. The Jury identified four areas of social meaning to illustrate the winning projects: how the complexity of history and of historical memory can be expressed in architecture; how private initiatives are integrated into the emerging public sphere; how to express individuality within complex social settings and in the context of the plurality of Muslim traditions; and how power and authority in the global domains of technology, culture and economics might be addressed through architecture. Throughout their two week-long meetings at the Award headquarters in Geneva, the Jury gave foremost importance to projects that raise the standards of excellence.

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 chaired by His Highness the Aga Khan. The current members of the Steering Committee are Akram Abu Hamdan (Director General, National Resources Investment and Development Corporation, Amman); Charles Correa (Principal, Charles Correa Architects, Mumbai); Abdou Filali-Ansary (Director, Institute for the Study of Muslim Civilisations, Aga Khan University, London); 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); Babar Khan Mumtaz (Reader in Housing Studies, University of London); and Peter Rowe (Raymond Garbe Professor of Architecture and Urban Design at Harvard University, and Education Programme Director of the Aga Khan Trust for Culture). Suha Özkan is the 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 2002-2004 cycle are Ghada Amer (Artist, New York City); Hanif Kara (Partner, Adams Kara Taylor Structural and Civil Engineering Consultancy, London); Rahul Mehrotra (Executive Director, Urban Design Research Institute, Mumbai); Farshid Moussavi (Partner, Foreign Office Architects, London); Modjtaba Sadria (Professor of Cross-Cultural Relations and East Asian Studies, Chuo University, Tokyo), Reinhard Schulze (Professor of Islamic Studies, University of Berne); Elías Torres Tur (Partner, Martínez Lapeña - Torres Arquitectos S.L., Barcelona); Billie Tsien (Partner, Tod Williams Billie Tsien Architects, New York City); and Jafar Tukan (Principal, Consolidated Consultants for Engineering and the Environment, Amman).

Ceremonies to announce 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), the Alhambra in Granada (1998) and the Citadel of Aleppo (2001).

A monograph on the 2004 Award will be published by Thames & Hudson in November 2004. Entitled Architecture and Polyphony: Building in the Islamic World Today, the book includes full descriptions and illustrations of the seven winning projects, as well as essays by Reinhard Schulze, Billie Tsien, Hanif Kara, Elias Torres Tur, Modjtaba Sadria, Babar Khan Mumtaz and Suha Özkan, as well as a series of collages by Ghada Amer.

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.

The Aga Khan Music Initiative helps preserve Central Asia’s endangered musical heritage by ensuring its transmission to a new generation of artists and audiences. The Music Initiative supports musicians it has identified as tradition-bearers, and also sponsors a worldwide music touring programme and the dissemination of Central Asian music.

Another initiative undertaken by the Trust’s Education and Culture Programme in conjunction with the Massachusetts Institute of Technology is ArchNet (, an Internet-based network that provides students and professionals with a globally accessible resource on architecture, urban design and related issues.

The Aga Khan Humanities Project is developing a core, introductory humanities curriculum based on the cultural traditions of Central Asia for use in universities in the region. The Trust’s Museums Project is creating the Aga Khan Museum in Toronto and the Indian Ocean Maritime Museum in Zanzibar.

The Trust interacts closely with the other agencies of the Aga Khan Development Network, a group of eight private, non-denominational, 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 Aga Khan Foundation is known for its work in difficult, resource-poor areas such as Afghanistan and Mozambique; in every undertaking, the goal is to assist in the struggle against hunger, disease and illiteracy through the discovery and implementation of innovative solutions to development. The Aga Khan Education Services aims to diminish obstacles to educational access, quality and achievement; it operates more than 300 schools and advanced educational programmes at the pre-school, primary, secondary and higher secondary levels in the developing world. The Aga Khan Health Services provides primary and curative health care in India, Kenya, Pakistan, Tajikistan and Tanzania through 325 health centres, dispensaries, hospitals, diagnostic centres and community health outlets. The Aga Khan Planning and Building Services works to improve the built environment through design and construction, village planning, natural hazard mitigation, environmental sanitation and improved water supply systems. The Aga Khan Fund for Economic Development - the only for-profit, international development agency in the Network - takes bold but calculated steps to invest in fragile and complex environments by mobilising investment for the construction, rehabilitation or expansion of infrastructure, setting up sustainable financial institutions and building economically viable enterprises; all profits are reinvested in future development initiatives. The Aga Khan University, headquartered in Karachi, is a major centre for education, training and research in health sciences and teacher education; it now has ten teaching sites in Afghanistan, Kenya, Pakistan, Syria, Tanzania, Uganda, and the United Kingdom. The University of Central Asia aims to foster economic and social development in the broad mountain regions of Central Asia and elsewhere, while at the same time helping peoples to preserve and promote their cultural heritage; it is located on three campuses: in Khorog, Tajikistan; Tekeli, Kazakhstan; and Naryn, Kyrgyz Republic.

For information please contact:
The Aga Khan Award for Architecture
PO Box 2049
1211 Geneva 2
Tel: (41.22) 909.72.00
Fax: (41.22) 909.72.92