The winners of the Aga Khan Award for Architecture have been announced earlier this month in a ceremony in Al Ain, Abu Dhabi. His Excellency Awaidha Murshed Al Marar, Chairman of Department of Municipal Affairs and Transport of the United Arab Emirates announced that the venue for the winners’ ceremony will be the Al Jahili fort in Al Ain.

The prize, which is given every three years, is considered to be one of the most important awards in the field. It was established by the Aga Khan in 1977 to identify and encourage building concepts that successfully addressed the needs and aspirations of communities in which Muslims have a significant presence.

During 2016, an independent Master Jury selected a shortlist of 19 projects, which was announced on 9 May 2016, from among 348 nominations. Each of the shortlisted projects was rigorously investigated by architects, conservation specialists or structural engineers. Their reports are the basis for the Master Jury’s selection of the eventual winners.

The winners are:

BANGLADESH

Bait Ur Rouf Mosque, Dhaka (Architect: Marina Tabassum) - A refuge for spirituality in urban Dhaka, selected for its beautiful use of natural light

image Bait Ur Rouf Mosque, Dhaka / Courtesy of Aga Khan Award for Architecture

Friendship Centre, Gaibandha (Architect: Kashef Mahboob Chowdhury/URBANA) - A community centre which makes a virtue of an area susceptible to flooding in rural Bangladesh

image Friendship Centre, Gaibandha / Courtesy of Aga Khan Award for Architecture

CHINA

Cha’er Hutong Children’s Library and Art Centre, Beijing (Architect: ZAO / standardarchitecture / Zhang Ke) - A children’s library selected for its embodiment of contemporary life in the traditional courtyard residences of Beijing’s Hutongs

image Cha’er Hutong Children’s Library and Art Centre, Beijing / Courtesy of Aga Khan Award for Architecture

DENMARK

Superkilen, Copenhagen (Architect: BIG- Bjarke Ingels Group, Topotek 1 and Superflex) - A public space promoting integration across lines of ethnicity, religion and culture

image Superkilen, Copenhagen / Courtesy of Aga Khan Award for Architecture

IRAN

Tabiat Pedestrian Bridge, Tehran (Architect: Diba Tensile Architecture / Leila Araghian, Alireza Behzadi) - A multi-level bridge spanning a busy motorway has created a dynamic new urban space

image Tabiat Pedestrian Bridge, Tehran / Courtesy of Aga Khan Award for Architecture

LEBANON

Issam Fares Institute, Beirut (Architect: Zaha Hadid Architects) - A new building for the American University of Beirut’s campus, radical in composition but respectful of its traditional context

image Issam Fares Institute, Beirut / Courtesy of Aga Khan Award for Architecture

The Venue for the Award Ceremony

Ceremonies to announce the winning projects and mark the close of each triennial cycle are always held in settings selected for their architectural and cultural importance to the Muslim world. In 2016, the ceremony will be held at the Al Jahili Fort, a World Heritage Site in Al Ain. Construction of Al Jahili Fort began in 1891 under Sheikh Zayed the First. Completed in 1898, it remained a residence of the Al Nahyan family for many years. It underwent a comprehensive rehabilitation between 2007 and 2008 by the Abu Dhabi Authority for Culture and Heritage with the collaboration of Eike Roswag, an Aga Khan Award for Architecture winner in 2007. The Fort was declared a World Heritage Site in 2011.

Previous venues for Award ceremonies encompass many of the most illustrious architectural achievements in the Muslim world, including 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).

The Aga Khan Award for Architecture

The Aga Khan Award for Architecture was established by His Highness the Aga Khan in 1977 to identify and encourage building concepts that successfully addressed the needs and aspirations of communities in which Muslims have a significant presence. Prizes have been given to projects across the world, from France to China. Architects and planners from New York to Dhaka have received one of 116 awards. During the nomination process, more than 9,000 building projects were documented.

Over the course of the last 39 years, most of the great architects of our time have either won the Award or served on its Master Jury or Steering Committee, from Zaha Hadid to Norman Foster, Charles Correa to Frank Gehry, Jean Nouvel to Hassan Fathy.

The Aga Khan Award for Architecture selects projects – from slum upgrading to high rise “green” buildings – that not only exhibit architectural excellence but also improve the overall quality of life. Because these achievements typically involved successful collaboration between many people, the Award recognises mayors, builders, clients, master craftsmen, engineers and end-users – as well as architects.


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