Nine architectural projects in the Muslim world, ranging from a mud-brick marketplace to a modern university campus, were honoured by the Aga Khan on 5 September in the world’s richest architectural awards.
The honours were announced at a ceremony in the Malaysian capital Kuala Lumpur, itself a previous winner for its shimmering Petronas Towers, once the world’s tallest. Winning projects, which share a $500,000 (Rs2.05 crore) prize, include the University of Technology Petronas in Malaysia designed by Britain’s Norman Foster, and the restoration of the ancient city of Shibam in Yemen.
Amiriya Complex, Yemen
“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,” the Aga Khan said ahead of the ceremony.
Other winners are the Samir Kassir Square in Beirut, a striking minimalist space featuring a reflecting pool, a stone bench and a wooden decking centre on two historic ficus trees. The Amiriya Complex in Rada Yemen involved 500 craftsmen and artisans who used traditional methods to rescue the 16th century complex, which was in a precarious state. Singapore’s Moulmein Rise Residential was lauded as a tropical high-rise which utilizes low-energy strategies instead of relying on mechanical climate-control systems. One of the smallest winners, a primary school in Bangladesh, was hand-built in four months by architects, local craftsmen, pupils, parents and teachers using traditional methods and materials with an innovative twist.
Samir Kassir Square, Beirut
The awards, bestowed every three years, were established in 1977 by the Aga Khan, the spiritual leader of the Shia Ismaili Muslims, to address the needs and aspirations of Muslim societies. The awards are also aimed at enhancing the appreciation of Islamic culture, as expressed through architecture. This year’s awards, the 10th in the series, were for projects completed between 1 January 1994 and 31 December 2005. A commemorative postage stamp on the awards was also released at the function.
So far, 92 projects across the world have received the awards and documentation has been compiled on over 7,500 building projects. Many of the winning projects cater to the need of a pluralistic community as a whole, such as the Lepers Hospital in Chopda Taluka, India, and the Datai Hotel in Langkawi, Malaysia. AFP