The AKDN works to impact architecture and human habitats in a number of ways. It works directly on projects that improve housing, particularly design and construction, but also village planning, natural hazard mitigation, environmental sanitation, water supplies and other issues that affect living conditions. It undertakes urban regeneration projects that include the restoration of historic structures, the creation and rehabilitation of public spaces, parks and gardens, and supports community-based planning and upgrading projects that spur social, economic and cultural development.
The Aga Khan Award for Architecture, established in 1977, is considered one of the most renowned and prestigious awards of its kind. It plays an important role in influencing global architectural discourse and promoting innovative solutions to problems faced by many societies. At the time of its inception, architectural discourse reflected Western preoccupations. There was a vacuum of knowledge of the architecture of Muslim civilizations. The Award championed many of the concerns that are now common today: sustainability, human scale, climate adaptation, quality of life. To address these issues, the Award is given every three years to projects that set new standards of excellence in architecture, planning practices, historic preservation and landscape architecture. Attention is given to building schemes that use local resources and appropriate technology in innovative ways, and to projects likely to inspire similar efforts elsewhere. For more information about the Award, please see: www.akdn.org/architectureMore
Other programmes within AKDN address the intersection of architecture and the quality of life in different ways. The Aga Khan Historic Cities Programme conducts regeneration projects that spur social, economic and cultural development, including the restoration of historic structures, the creation and rehabilitation of public spaces, parks and gardens, and community-based planning and upgrading projects.
The Aga Khan Program for Islamic Architecture at Harvard University and the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) works to educate architects, planners, teachers and researchers who can contribute to meeting the building and design needs of Muslim communities. The Programme’s faculty, students and alumni have played a substantial role in advancing the practice, analysis and understanding of Islamic architecture as a discipline and cultural force. Established in 1979, it is supported by a series of endowments from His Highness the Aga Khan. It works to improve the teaching of Islamic art and architecture, enhance the understanding of Islamic architecture, urbanism, and visual culture and to increase the visibility of Islamic cultural heritage.
Archnet.org is an on-line complement to the Award, the Historic Cities Programme and the AKPIA programmes. It aims to be the most comprehensive archive of online resources on architecture, urban design and development in the Muslim world. It features collections, resources and documentation from the Aga Khan Trust for Culture, the Aga Khan Program for Islamic Architecture at Harvard and MIT, and donated collections of historic archives and documentation.>