Design for Diversity: The Aga Khan Award for Architecture

Ancient Urbanism: How the Built Environment Influenced Society in the 11th Century Greater Middle East - Monday, October 16, 2017 (6:30 PM - 8 PM)

The Exhibition highlights 19 works of architecture from the 2014-2016 cycle of the Aga Khan Award for Architecture. The Aga Khan Award for Architecture is given every three years to projects that set new standards of excellence in architecture, planning practices, historic preservation and landscape architecture. Through its efforts, the Award seeks to identify and encourage building concepts that successfully address the needs and aspirations of societies across the world, in which Muslims have a significant presence. An emphasis is placed on projects that address pluralistic communities and bringing together diverse populations. As Shiraz Allibhai, Deputy Director of the Aga Khan Trust for Culture, puts it, the Award “serves people, serves community.”

The exhibition emphasizes architectural works that not only provide for peoples' physical, social and economic needs, but that also stimulates and respond to their cultural expectations. The exhibition highlights the attention that is given to building schemes that use local resources and appropriate technology in innovative ways, and to projects likely to inspire similar efforts elsewhere.


About The Aga Khan Award for Architecture

The Aga Khan Award for Architecture is a program of the Aga Khan Trust for Culture (AKTC), which has a wide range of activities aimed at the preservation and promotion of the material and spiritual heritage of Muslim societies. The AKTC is one of many agencies of the Aga Khan Development Network, a private, non-denominational international development organization, chaired by His Highness the Aga Khan. These agencies work to improve the welfare and prospects of people in the developing world, particularly in Asia and Africa. Some programs, such as specific research, education and cultural programs, span both the developed and developing worlds. While each agency pursues its own mandate, all of them work together within the overarching framework of the Network so that their different pursuits interact and reinforce one another.

Established by His Highness in 1977, the Aga Khan Award for Architecture’s US$1 million prize is unique from many other architectural prizes in that it selects projects – from slum upgrading to high rise “green” buildings – that not only exhibit architectural excellence but also improve the overall quality of life.

Over the last four decades, it has steadfastly championed the needs and aspirations of human beings within the practice of architecture. The Award is also different because it not only rewards architects but also identifies municipalities, builders, clients, master craftsmen and engineers who have played important roles in the realization of a project.

About the Aga Khan Council for the United States of America

The Aga Khan Council for the United States of America is the social governance structure for Ismaili Muslims. Headquartered in Houston, Texas, The Aga Khan Council is supported by numerous volunteers throughout the country who provide their time and talent toward improving the quality of life of the community. His Highness the Aga Khan is the 49th hereditary Imam, or spiritual leader, of the Shia Ismaili Muslim Community.

The Ismaili Muslims are a culturally diverse community living in over 25 countries around the world. They adhere to a 1,400-year tradition of Shi'a values that are expressed through a commitment to a search for knowledge for the betterment of self and society; embracing pluralism by building bridges of peace and understanding; and generously sharing of one's time, talents, and material resources to improve the quality of life of the community and those among whom they live.


Superkilen Park in Copehagen, Denmark
Superkilen Park - Copehagen, Denmark

Moroccan fountain in the Black Market, while most of the objects and vegetation in the park have been imported from other cultural contexts and places. The park allows visitors to encounter and use these alien and exotic objects as an everyday life experience. Image courtesy Aga Khan Trust for Culture / Kristian Skeie.

Friendship Centre in Gaibandha, Bangladesh
Friendship Centre - Gaibandha, Bangladesh

Located in rural Gaibandha where agriculture is predominant, the project's roofscape merges with its environment. Image courtesy Aga Khan Trust for Culture / Rajesh Vora.

Tabiat Pedestrian Bridge in Tehran, Iran
Tabiat Pedestrian Bridge - Tehran, Iran

View from the south towards the Bridge and Alborz Mountains in the background. Image courtesy Aga Khan Trust for Culture / Barzin Baharlouie.

Isaam Fares Institute in Beirut, Lebanon
Isaam Fares Institute - Beirut, Lebanon

The project is a great asset to the campus, AUB and Beirut. The professionals describe the design as very contemporary, representative of its time and one that pushes the physical abilities of the materials used to the limit, while the art community views the building as a piece of art. Image courtesy Aga Khan Trust for Culture / Cemal Emden.

Ur Rouf Mosque in Bait, Bangladesh
Ur Rouf Mosque - Bait, Bangladesh

Column free prayer hall is raised on eight peripheral columns, in addition to four light courts, random circular roof openings allows daylight into the prayer hall creating an ornate pattern on the floor enhancing spirituality through light. Image courtesy Aga Khan Trust for Culture / Rajesh Vora.