The National, UAE - Sunday, November 6, 2016 | Safar 6, 1438
Aga Khan in Al Ain for architecture awards
November 6, 2016 Updated: November 6, 2016 11:14 PM
AL AIN // "The holy Quran commands humankind to shape our earthly environment as good stewards of the divine creation."
So said Prince Karim Aga Khan – the 49th hereditary Imam of the world Shia Imami Ismaili community and a spiritual leader who claims direct descent from the Prophet Mohammed – on Sunday night at a moonlit ceremony at Al Jahili Fort, Al Ain.
"And as we gather in this special place for this special purpose, we remind people of all backgrounds and identities of a powerful lesson, the way in which a thoughtful concern for the built environment can characterise an entire civilisation."
The 79-year-old statesman and spiritual leader made the remarks at the award ceremony for the 2016 Aga Khan Award for Architecture, an event that was as much a meeting of Muslim leaders as a celebration of the built environment.
The audience included Sheikh Mohammed bin Rashid, Vice President and Ruler of Dubai, Sheikh Saif bin Zayed, Deputy Prime Minister and Minister of Interior, and Sheikh Hamdan bin Mohammed, Crown Prince of Dubai.
Also there were Sheikh Nahyan bin Mubarak, Minister of Culture and Knowledge Development, and Sheikh Tahnoun bin Mohammed, the Abu Dhabi Ruler’s Representative in the Eastern Region.
It was first official visit by the Aga Khan to the UAE since 2008, when he opened the Ismaili Centre in Dubai on a plot of land donated in 1982 by Sheikh Mohammed in celebration of the Aga Khan’s silver jubilee.
Established to recognise architectural excellence and encourage projects that address the needs of communities in which Muslims have a significant presence, the US$1 million prize, awarded every three years, was launched in 1977.
In its 39 years, the award has documented more than 9,000 projects and recognised 116, including Jean Nouvel’s Institut du Monde Arabe in Paris, the Azem Palace in Damascus, Louis Khan’s National Assembly Building in Dhaka, and the Petronas Towers in Kuala Lumpur.
Unusually, it recognises projects as a whole including their clients, developers, builders and the communities that benefit from them.
Now, in its 13th cycle, six more winners were added to that list.
Originally announced at Al Jahili last month, these include Superkilen, a 30,000 square-metre park in Copenhagen, Denmark; the Bait Ur Rouf Mosque in Dhaka, Bangladesh; the Tabiat Pedestrian Bridge in Tehran, Iran; the Micro Yuan’er children’s library and art centre in Beijing, China; the Issam Fares Institute at the American University of Beirut, Lebanon, and a rural training centre built for NGO Friendship in Gaibandha, Bangladesh.
Since the first award ceremony, which was held at the Shalimar Gardens in Lahore in 1980, the awards have been hosted at the Islamic world’s most prestigious historic monuments.
They include the Topkapi Palace in Istanbul, the Alhambra in Granada, Spain, the Citadel of Aleppo in Syria, and now Al Ain’s Al Jahili Fort.
The awards ceremony followed a seminar on Saturday in Dubai, which was attended by a panel of the award winners, master jurors and members of the UAE’s architectural and design community.
There, the Aga Khan voiced his concern about the mounting urban and environmental challenges facing the Muslim world.
"This award has as its objective to cause people to think about the processes of change in our world and to see how we can best influence those," he told an audience of 550, among them Sheikha Lubna Al Qasimi, Minister of State for Tolerance.
"We are beginning to see in many parts of the Muslim world – and if you look at the map you can see it quite clearly in an expanding band of arid land – how global warming is beginning to put life at risk where it was not at risk before.
The Aga Khan spoke of the responsibility that all those connected with the environment – designers, planners, academics and politicians – shared in rising rise to the challenges posed by the change.
"I would ask you to try to bring this issue forward so that we can address it in good time, and not find ourselves 10 or 20 years from now with large numbers of towns and villages at risk from dangers that should have been taken into account much earlier."
Exclusive: A Transcript of Mawlana Hazar Imam’s Extempore Remarks Made at the Aga Khan Award for Architecture Seminar Held in Dubai on November 5, 2016
Clockwise from bottom: A seminar session for the Aga Khan Award for Architecture in progress in the Ballroom of the Marriot Marquis Hotel in Dubai on November 5, 2016; His Highness the Aga Khan arriving for the seminar; and His Highness the Aga Khan delivering ex tempo remarks at the conclusion of the seminar. Photo Credits: Gulf News (2 top photos), bottom photo: Simergphotos.
The actual presentation of the 2016 Aga Khan Award for Architecture to six winning projects that have been pictorially summarized above was preceded by an architectural seminar which was attended by urban planners and architects from around the world. It was held at the Ballroom of Dubai’s Marriot Marquis on November 5, 2016. The seminar was divided into two separate sessions. The first was moderated by Nasser Rabbat, Professor of Islamic Architecture at MIT, and included a panel discussion comprising three of the winners (Zhang Ke, Marina Tabassum and Patrick Schumacher), a member from the Aga Khan Award’s Master Jury and two members of the Award’s Steering Committee. The second session was moderated by Andreas Ruby, Director of the Swiss Architecture Museum, and included a panel discussion comprising three of the winners (Leila Araghian, Bjarke Ingels and Kashef Chowdhury), a member of the Master Jury and two members of the Steering Committee.
At the conclusion of the morning’s events, His Highness the Aga Khan spoke extempore and in his remarks stated how climate change and global warming are posing a fundamental threat to bands of Muslim countries, where villages are being wiped away by earthquakes, by landslides, and by avalanches.
Simerg has prepared a transcript of his lucid remarks, and we are pleased to share the transcript with our readers. Our version that appears below contains most of the closing remarks, with the exception of a couple of sentences and words that we were not able to follow.
(The following transcript of His Highness the Aga Khan’s extempore remarks has been prepared by Simerg)
“I would like to take this occasion to thank all the men and women who have participated with me during the past years to build this Award, and to make it better known in terms of its goals for impacting the processes of change around us, and particularly in the Muslim world. As people living in a given time, we are observers of that time. We have the ability to affect the future…
“And one of the exciting aspects of this Award, I think, is particularly that precise opportunity to build for the future, to look forward to processes of change which are thought through, which are evaluated, which are affected upon in terms of impact on society, impact on cultural history, impact on personal enjoyment in public spaces or private spaces. So, this Award really has, as its objective, to cause people to think about the processes of change in our world, and see how we could best influence them.
“I have been particularly curious about schools of architecture. Because it seems to me that the developing world, in particular, needs to concentrate on strengthening its schools of architecture, its schools of land planning. There are not many of them, they have a few international links, but not many…….And I hope that academics, who are following the work of the Award, will come forward, seek the support of the Award, offer their knowledge to various centres which are educating young men and women who will impact our future in the developing world.
“I am also worried about the process of warming. We are beginning to see, in many parts of the Muslim world – and if you look at the map, you can see quite clearly, there is a band of land – how warming is beginning to create situations where life is at risk, where it was not at risk before. We are seeing villages which are being wiped away by earthquakes, by landslides, by avalanches. We are seeing people moving to dangerous areas in mountain environments. And very often these populations do not have access to good knowledge about the way these environments are predicted to change over time. And they are therefore leaving areas of risk, but not really understanding that very often they are moving to other areas of risk. So public knowledge about change processes is something which I consider very important indeed. I would like to see that as part of general education. I would like to see that as part of secondary education, so that all young people have a better understanding, particularly in our world, in the Islamic world, of the spaces in which they live, how they can ensure the security of their habitat, how they can practice good construction in these areas. In the work that I do, I see these processes of change as being badly predicted and not really forecast in terms of the human and economic resources that are needed to underwrite good processes of change.
“In this audience, and people following the Award, there are many well-placed men and women who can impact public thinking on these issues. And in your respective academic and professional activities, I would ask you to try to bring these issues forward so that we can address them in good time, and do not find ourselves ten or twenty years from now, with large numbers of towns and villages at risk, which really should have been taken into account much earlier.
“Finally, I would like to thank the Steering Committee and the Jury, and everyone else connected with this Award, for the wonderful work that they do. If you think about it, the Award is simply a reflection of the time which men and women give to thinking about the change processes in our environment. And I want to say how happy and grateful I am for this wonderful support which enables us to continue to reflect over our environment, and how we can better manage it for future generations. Thank you very much to everybody who is a supporter of the Award, and I hope we can continue for many years. And I wish you safe continuation in the weeks and months ahead. Thank you.” — His Highness the Aga Khan, November 5, 2016, Marriot Marquis Hotel, Dubai, UAE)
Aga Khan Award for Architecture at Al Jahili Fort, Al Ain, Abu Dhabi UAE on November 6, 2016 Performed: "Raga Madhuvanti" Music Composed By: Homayoun Sakhi Performed by: Homayoun Sakhi : Rubab Wu Man : Chinese Pipa:Salar Nader : Tabla Basel Rajoub : Saxophone Andrea Piccioni :Tambourine:Feras Charestan : Qanun #ragamadhuvanti #akmi #akmiallstars #homayounsakhi #salarnader #akdnarchitect #akdn #ismailimail #baselrajoub #wuman #akf #ferascharestan #andreapiccioni #salarsystem #dubai#abudhabi #uae #ismailicenterdubai #rubab #fairouznishanova @akdnarchitect @akmi @homayoun_sakhi @akdn @wumanpipa @salarnader @salarsystem @rajoubbasel @ferascharestan @andreapiccioni1@nathaliedegroot
On the evening of Saturday, 5 November, Mawlana Hazar Imam hosted a dinner and concert at the Ismaili Centre, Dubai for the international attendees of the Aga Khan Award for Architecture.
» Through six winning projects, Aga Khan Award for Architecture looks boldly ahead
» UAE Jamat embraces the Aga Khan Award for Architecture
» AKDN coverage of the Aga Khan Award for Architecture
Prince Amyn, Prince Hussain and Prince Aly Muhammad joined Hazar Imam, who welcomed guests, including members of the Steering Committee, the Master Jury and the winners of the Aga Khan Award, as well as the Ismaili Leaders’ International Forum.
The feature of the evening was a rare musical encounter between the talented and innovative artists from Afghanistan, China, Italy, and Syria. Produced by the Aga Khan Music Initiative, the concert featured Homayoun Sakhi, Wu Man, Basel Rajoub, Salar Nader, Andrea Piccioni, and Feras Charestan performing on the Afghan rubab, pipa, saxophone, tabla, frame drums and the qanun. The group's newly created compositions, improvisations and contemporary arrangements were inspired by the ancient musical traditions that they each draw upon.
The highlight of their performance was the final piece, Madhuvanti, composed by Homayoun Sakhi and arranged for a unique combination of instruments that represent the Eastern and Western ends of the historical Silk Route. Madhuvanti was performed again at the Aga Khan Award for Architecture 2016 Award Ceremony on Sunday in Al Ain, together with the recitation of a poem celebrating the history and achievements of the United Arab Emirates.
The Aga Khan Music Initiative is an interregional music and arts education programme that supports talented musicians and educators in preserving, transmitting and further developing their musical heritage in contemporary forms. First launched in Central Asia, the programme has expanded to include artists and audiences in the North and West Africa, Asia and the Middle East.
Friendship Centre and Bait Ur Rouf Mosque receive 2016 Aga Khan Award for Architecture
On November 6, 2016, the winners of the Aga Khan Award for Architecture were celebrated in a glittering tribute at...
On November 6, 2016, the winners of the Aga Khan Award for Architecture were celebrated in a glittering tribute at the Al Jahili fort in Al-Ain, UAE, in the presence of His Highness Sheikh Mohammed bin Rashid Al Maktoum, Vice-President and Prime Minister of UAE, Ruler of Dubai, His Highness Prince Karim Aga Khan, Chairman of the Award, and various dignitaries from the United Arab Emirates and abroad. Runa Khan, founder and executive director of Friendship, received the award for Friendship Centre in Gaibandha and Architect Marina Tabassum received the award for Bait Ur Rouf Mosque in Dhaka. These two projects from Bangladesh are among the six winners from 348 nominated projects in 69 countries. The winners were first announced on October 3, 2016 at the Al Jahili fort in Al Ain, and are from Bangladesh, China, Denmark, Iran and Lebanon.
The Friendship Centre in Gaibandha, Bangladesh has been designed by the prominent Architect Kashef Mahboob Chowdhury which was completed in December 2011. It was built for Friendship, a non-governmental organisation, which works to restore the dignity and hope of marginalised communities living in the remote and unaddressed areas of northern Bangladesh and as well as in the southern coastal belts. The centre is a community training centre which makes a virtue of an area susceptible to flooding in rural Bangladesh. The Centre provides services for the marginalised community of the region. It was designed to provide an inviting and accessible space for those who use the Centre’s services. It is situated on two acres; the complex is designed to blend with the natural environment while echoing the ruins of Mahasthan, a Buddhist dwelling from the third century BC, located nearby. It is constructed and finished primarily with one material local handmade brick, and individual pavilions, courtyard, pools, and green spaces are woven throughout.
Bait Ur Rouf Mosque, Dhaka was designed by Architect Marina Tabassum. As a refuge for spirituality in urban Dhaka, the project was selected for its beautiful use of natural light.
The Aga Khan Award for Architecture is one of the oldest and most prestigious awards in architecture. It was established by His Highness the Aga Khan in 1977 to identify and encourage building concepts that successfully address the needs and aspirations of communities in which Muslims have a significant presence.
Four African projects, including collapsed Makoko floating school up for international awards
The Makoko floating school in Lagos, Nigeria this year receives global recognition for its design and architectural structure.
The school founded and designed by Kunle Adeyem, the school was shortlisted in the Aga Khan Award for Architecture event recently held in Dubai.
The Makoko floating school comprises alternative sustainable buildings and structures designed to adapt to the resident communities’ aquatic lifestyle, housing 100 children.
However, in July the structure collapsed after heavy rains pounded the city.
“This settlement was already in a way dealing with these issues although through very poor conditions. But they were already adapting to these issues that I feel are some of the most important challenges of our time,” said Adeyem.
When he set about building the school, Adeyem was well aware the state government would show resistance to it, given the unplanned nature of the community.
Unskilled local workers were hired to build the structure, with the idea that they could then go out and build their own homes with the techniques learned while erecting the school.
Leslie Lokko, an associate professor of architecture at the University of Johannesburg, was among the panel of judges.
She said African architectural space offers a rich resource of dynamism and creative works that often go unnoticed such as the floating school.
“This is a world that is equal to all other worlds. It is not a world that exists somewhere else in a more deprived state. This is absolutely cutting edge. It is as modern as anywhere else and it has a kind of intellectual and cultural prominence which I think gives a lot of confidence to people who are always seen as somehow outside the loop,” said Lokko.
The Casa-Pory in the city of the Casablanca, Morocco; a major transport up was also competing in the contest.
Guelmin School of technology in Guelmin, a remote part of Morocco was also shortlisted. It is an education complex based on classic Berber designs associated with the community living in northern Africa.
However none of these and other three selected African projects made it to the the list of winners.
The award was started in 1977 by his highness the Aga Khan to encourage building concepts that address needs and aspirations of communities, in which Muslims have a significant presence.
Aga Khan Award for Architecture 2016 - Al Jahili Fort
Name of the Issue Aga Khan Award for Architecture 2016 - Al Jahili Fort
Release Date 6 November 2016
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Size 30x40 mm in sheets of 6 stamps
Designer Emirates Post Group in co-operation with Abu Dhabi Tourism & Culture
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Great people never forget their heritage
The great venue of Al Jahili Fort was selected for this sparkling ceremony of the Aga Khan award, which is a great example of Islamic architecture in itself (‘Six projects win Dh3.67m Aga Khan Award’, Gulf News, November 7). It was built by the grandfather of Shaikh Zayed Bin Sultan Al Nahyan, founding father of the UAE, in 1890s. This award was presented by His Highness Shaikh Mohammad Bin Rashid Al Maktoum, Vice-President and Prime Minister of the UAE and Ruler of Dubai, who’s great visionary strategy has helped bring the UAE to the top in the world, in many fields. The owner of this award is Prince Karim Aga Khan, the spiritual leader of Ismaili Muslims who always speaks about pluralism, Islamic culture and civilisation, global warming, diversity and unity.
This award is presented after every three years and is a great recognition of superior work done in the field of Islamic architecture worldwide. It will keep alive and encourage the building of rich Islamic cultural alliances with modern technology for future, which emerges with great and unique works in architecture showing Muslim civilisation. This is our cherished identity. This award is not working merely on the criteria of architectural structure in itself, but it also highlights those structures that help all surrounding communities from different cultural backgrounds.
Among six winners, three of the awardees were women architects, which is a great example of women’s contribution in every field. Women are working shoulder to shoulder with men and this is a great example of true Islam, which gives full opportunity to women.
Great people and communities never forget their culture and civilisation. The UAE is one among those and all credit goes to our great leaders. Hats off to them.
In projects that range from the scale of the residential block to the master plan, Marina Tabassum prioritizes climate, materials, site, culture, and local history in order to counteract what she finds impersonal and confused in architecture globally. Her Bait Ur Rouf Mosque is a case in point: built over the course of twelve years with a minuscule budget, it is distinguished by its lack of popular mosque iconography, its emphasis on materials, space, and light, and its capacity to function not only as a place of worship but also as a meeting room, school, and playground for an underserved community on Dhaka’s periphery. Tabassum, a graduate of Bangladesh University of Engineering and Technology, founded Dhaka-based Marina Tabassum Architects in 2005 after ten years as a partner and cofounder of URBANA in Dhaka. She has taught and lectured widely and is currently academic director of Bengal Institute for Architecture, Landscapes, and Settlements. In 2016 she was one of six architects to receive the Aga Khan Award for Architecture.
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