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Winners of the 2016 Aga Khan Award for Architecture celebrate inclusivity and pluralism

Winners of the 2016 Aga Khan Award for Architecture celebrate inclusivity and pluralism

Al-Ain, UAE, 6 November 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. 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.In the speech he delivered at the ceremony, His Highness the Aga Khan said that “the spirit of the Award has been an inclusive one, valuing all manner of buildings and spaces, from skyscrapers to mud huts, from residences to work and gathering spaces, from reforestation and financing projects to cemeteries, bridges and parks, from the accomplishments of signature architects to those of anonymous craftsmen. This pluralistic approach may not echo the usual definition of the word ‘architecture’, but it is the closest we can get to the central inclusive message we want this Award to convey.”  He also reaffirmed his belief that “the spirit of pluralism has been central to the great achievements of past Islamic cultures – and it remains a central principle for these Awards.”The winners of the 2016 Aga Khan Award for Architecture, which were first announced on 3 October 2016 at the Al Jahili fort in Al Ain, are:BANGLADESHBait Ur Rouf Mosque, Dhaka (Architect: Marina Tabassum):  A refuge for spirituality in urban Dhaka, selected for its beautiful use of natural light.Friendship Centre, Gaibandha (Architect: Kashef Chowdhury / URBANA): A community centre which makes a virtue of an area susceptible to flooding in rural Bangladesh.CHINAMicro Yuan’er 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.DENMARKSuperkilen, Copenhagen (Architects: BIG – Bjarke Ingels Group, Topotek 1 and Superflex): A public space promoting integration across lines of ethnicity, religion and culture.IRANTabiat 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.LEBANONIssam 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.The Venue for the Award Ceremony: Al AinCeremonies 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. Today’s ceremony was held at the Al Jahili Fort, a UNESCO World Heritage Site in Al Ain, Abu Dhabi.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 UNESCO 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).About the Aga Khan Award for ArchitectureOver the last 39 years of the Award, prizes have been given to projects across the globe, 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 involve 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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