loss of our inheritance of cultural pluralism, the identity it
conveys to members of diverse societies, and the originally it
represents and stimulates in all of them will impoverish our
societies now and into the future. Sustaining this inheritance will
require conscious and concerned efforts involving the best minds and
most creative institutions around the world, efforts that must be
grounded in an informed understanding of history and cultural
context, and yet be forward looking and imaginative as they address
the needs of contemporary societies. This work will require an
enabling environment, characterized by open and unfettered debate of
ideas, a trust in cultural diversity, the celebration and reward of
innovation, and a commitment to civil society and pluralistic
Cultures of the developing world must establish a presence on the
rapidly growing information superhighway to balance those that
currently dominate the new electronic media. This will requirement
an investment of time and resources, and a mastery of regional and
international language. Unless these cultures develop creditable and
creative ways to preset themselves effectively in this new and
powerful medium of communication, cultural pluralism will suffer a
Aga Khan Award for Architecture was
established in 1977 to enhance the understanding and appreciation of
Islamic culture as expressed through architecture. By means of its triennial
Award, publications and exhibitions and international conferences
and seminars held in most of the countries, in which Muslims live
and work, the Award brings to the attention of architects, planners,
preservationists and those in related professions, as well as
governmental and cultural leaders, the entire 1400 year old
architectural cultural of Islam.
Its method is to seek out and
recognize examples of architectural excellence encompassing concerns
as varied as contemporary design, social housing, community
improvement and development, restoration, reuse, and area
conservation, as well as landscaping and environment issues. Through
its efforts, the Award seeks to identify and encourage building
concepts that successfully address the needs and aspirations of
societies, in which Muslims have a significant presence.
The selection process emphasizes architecture that not only provides
for people's physical, social, and economic needs, but that also
stimulates and respond to their cultural and spiritual expectations.
Particular attention is given to build schemes that use local
resources and appropriate technology in an innovative way, and to
projects likely to inspire similar efforts elsewhere.
The Award is organized of the basis of a calendar spanning, a 3-year
cycle, and is governed by a Steering Committee, chaired by Aga Khan.
Prizes totaling up to US$500,000, the largest architectural Award in
the world, are presented every 3 year to projects, selected by an
independent Master Jury. The Award has completed 7 cycles of
activity since 1977, and documentation has been complied on over
6000 building projects, located throughout the world. To date,
master juries have identified 75 projects to receive Awards. The
eight Award cycle covers the period from 1991 to 2001.
Khan Trust for Culture
Aga Khan's concern with the
cultural dimension of development, and the experience gained through
the Award, led to the establishment, in 1988, of the Aga Khan Trust
for Culture, which now incorporated the Award. The Trust's two other
major areas of activity are the Education and culture Program and
the Historic Cities Support Program.
The Education and culture Program has 3 interrelated long term
goals: improving the training of architectural professionals for
work in Islamic world, increasing cross-cultural understanding of
Islamic architecture and the intimate between architecture and
culture in Islamic civilizations, and creating greater awareness and
appreciation of the diversity and pluralism of Muslim cultures.
Activities draw upon resources generated by the Trust's other
programs, including materials in the Trust archives in Geneva and
those developed since 1979 at the AK Program for Islamic
Architecture (AKPIA) at Harvard University and Massachusetts
Institute of Technology (MIT). The Education and Culture Program is
currently providing support for the development and operation of a
new website. Arch Net, devoted to architecture, conservation ,and
planning. It is being developed at MIT and will incorporate material
from a wide array of sources including the Trust, AKPIA, and
selected schools of architecture in Islamic World.
Through the Historic Cities Support Program, established in 1992,
the Trust undertakes direct interventions aimed at the
revitalization of historic urban settlements in Islamic world,
focusing on physical rehabilitation of physical in conjunction with
community participation, training, and local institution building.
Past or current project sites in Hunza (North Pakistan), Cairo,
Zanzibar, Samarkent, Granada and Syria include the conservation of
landmark buildings, community-based upgrading of historic
settlements, strategic planning assistance to local authorities, and
the improvement of major public open spaces within or adjacent to
Procedures: Project Eligibility
The Award seeks out the
broadest possible range of architectural interventions: restoration
and social efforts are considered, as are contemporary design
projects and those demonstrating the use of appropriate
Protection of the built and natural environments, new approaches to
the need for shelter, the changing role of public urban spaces, and
workplaces and factories are also all encompassed in the group of
projects, submitted for consideration during each Award cycle.
Eligibility criteria for the current cycle focus on projects,
completed during the 12-year old period, from 1988 to 2001.
Accordingly, eligible projects must have been completed and in use
for at least one full year between the period first January and 31st
Although there are no fixed criteria as to the type, nature,
location or cost of projects to be considered for the Award,
eligible projects must be designed for or used by Muslim
communities, in part or in whole, wherever they are located. To
ensure the continuing impartiality of the Award procedures, no
projects undertaken by current members of the Award Steering
Committee, Master Jury or staff, nor by the Board or staff may be
Nominations are the official means of enrolment of projects to be
considered for the Award. The submission of a wide range of projects
is insured by a network of nominators, designated by the Award for
each cycle. This volunteer group comprises architects,
professionals, scholars and other, who are familiar with current
architectural developments in Muslim societies. The identity of
nominators is strictly confidential, as are the names of nominated
In addition to the nomination procedures, the Award has development
a project identification program, which is open to all persons or
institutions, who wish to bring projects to the attention of the
Award. The project identification program ensures a broad geographic
and architectural representation of projects, and updates the Award
archives on building activity in the Muslim world.
To register a project, preliminary documentation forms may be
obtained by the Award Office or by visiting the Award Website.
Projects received through the identification program are forwarded
to nominators, who may choose, but are not required them for the
The architects of projects enrolled through the nomination program
receive an Award documentation package, which describes the
standardized presentation requirements. In addition to submitting
photographs, slides and architectural drawings, architects are asked
to complete a detail questionnaire to use, cost, environmental and
climate factors, construction materials, building schedule and more
importantly, design concepts and each project's significance within
its own context.
& Selection Procedures
The review of projects and selection of Award recipients is the
responsibility of an independent Master Jury, specially appointed
for each Award cycle. The Master Jury holds two meetings to arrive
at its final decision. Each jury is pluridisciplinary and
brings together specialists in such fields as sociology,
history, philosophy, architectural conversation, archeology and
contemporary arts, with practicing architects and urban planners.
At its first meeting, the jury reviews approximately 500 submissions
enrolled through the nomination program. The jurors examine the
documentation on each project and those it retains (approximately
25-30 projects) are subject to on-site by members of Technical
Review teams selected by the Award.
On-Site Technical Review
The Technical Reviewers are architectural professionals specialized
in various disciplines, including housing, urban planning, landscape
design and restoration. Their task is to examine on-site each of the
projects short-listed by the Master Jury, verify project data and
seek additional information such as user reactions. The reviewers
must consider a detailed set of criteria in their written reports
and must also respond to the specific concerns and questions
prepared by the Master Jury for each project. To ensure maximum
objectivity, reviewers report on projects located outside their
Selection of Award Recipients
The Master Jury studies the finding presented by the Technical
Reviewers on each short-listed project during a final week-long
meeting. After evaluating the projects in closed sessions, the
jurors select the Award recipients and determine the apportionment
of the $500,000 prize fund.
Since the success of a winning project may be the product of efforts
by diverse individuals, groups and organizations, the Master Jury
apportion prizes among the contributors, architects, other design
and construction professionals, craftsmen, clients and institutions,
whom it considers most responsible for the success of each project.
The decisions of the Master Jury are Final.
The Chairman's Award was
established to honor achievements that fall outside the scope of the
Master Jury's mandate and is made in recognition of the lifetime
achievements of the distinguished architects. The Chairman's Award
has been presented on two occasions: in 1980, to the Egyptian
architect and urban planner, Hassan Fathy, and in 1986, to Rifat
Chadirji, and Iraqi architect and educator.
and Regional Seminars
To reach out a wider audience, the
Award has organized international and regional seminars during each
cycle. International seminars examine the trends and implications of
architectural transformations in Islamic world, while regional
seminars explore architecture in Islamic cultures in a specific
area. Designed to address developments in the built environments of
Muslims, they bring together government officials, architects,
academics, planner, social scientists, designers and architectural
writers. Since the Award's inception, 19 seminars have been held in
various parts of the world, including Paris, Istanbul, Fez, Jakarta,
Amman, Beijing, Dakar, Sana'a, Kuala Lumpur, Cairo, Malta, Zanzibar,
Yogyakarta, Almaty, Baku and Beirut.
Other important activities under a wide focus of public education,
such as "Architecture for a Changing World", a major
retrospective exhibition on the Award, sponsored by International
Foundation for Architectural Synthesis (Spain), and public lectures
by members of steering Committees and Master Juries.
Conserving the documentation of the
building projects, which have come under consideration has been one
of the goals of the Award and the materials gathered over each
3-year Award cycle from the major part of the library and visual
collections of the AK Trust for Culture. The visual collections
consists of over 200,000 slides, prints and negatives, as well as
the special portfolios of Award projects.
The library consists of books, information on architects and firms,
reports, special case studies and ongoing subscriptions to
architectural periodicals, along with newsletters, bulletins,
journals, chronicles and unpublished reports. The library provides
interested individual access to the collections by appointment and
responds to request for information from external sources.
The Award publishes the proceeding
of its international and regional seminars, as well as cyclical
monographs recording the recipients and discussions of each Award
cycle. Most Award publications are available in English; some are
also published in Arabic, French and Chinese. Further information
may be obtained by contacting the Award Office or on the website.