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Saturday, October 10, 1998 Published at 00:45 GMT 01:45 UK

World: Middle East

Delights of Muslim architecture

Restoration of Hebron's old town is praised by the jury

Winners of the Aga Khan Award for Architecture have been presented with their prizes at a ceremony at the Alhambra Palace, in Grenada, Spain.

Pakistani architect Nayyar Ali-Dada: Is there such a thing as Islamic architecture?
The award, established in 1977, aims to encourage architecture which respects the traditions of Muslim societies while responding creatively to the changing needs in the industrialised Islamic world.

The seven winning projects, chosen from 424 entries, were:

  • Restoration of Hebron's old town on the West Bank
  • Design of a leper hospital in Chopda Taluka, India
  • Alhamra Arts Council complex in Lahore, Pakistan
  • Vidhan Bhavan, the State Assembly in Madhya Pradesh, India
  • Salinger Residence, a private residence in Selangor,Malaysia
  • Tuwaiq Palace, a recreational facility in Ridyadh, Saudi Arabia
  • Slum networking project in the city of Indore, India

[ image: Indore slum programme: Would not qualify for most architecture awards]
Indore slum programme: Would not qualify for most architecture awards
The Aga Khan awards are given to individual projects and they tend to emphasise community development, restoration and landscape design as well as aesthetic achievement.

Since its inception, the award has stressed the breadth of architecture.

On practically every award list there is a project that would not qualify for most architecture awards simply because, by conventional definitions, it would be considered engineering or planning.

The example this year is the slum networking project in Indore City in India.

[ image: Chopda Taluka leper hospital: Highlighting use of local materials and labour]
Chopda Taluka leper hospital: Highlighting use of local materials and labour
The Aga Khan award includes social values among its high aims.

For example, another winner this year is the modestly attractive rural hospital for lepers in Chopda Taluka, in central India.

Designed by two Norwegian architecture students, it would probably not have won any other major architecture award, but makes it on the Aga Khan list because of its obvious humanitarianism, its appropriate use of local materials and labour.

It serves people well, but does not show off.

By contrast, the new State legislative building in Madhya Pradesh, designed by the Indian architect, Charles Correa, and the arts complex in Lahore, Pakistan, are both buildings which reflect creative interpretations of traditional ideas, forms and materials.

Each project which has won is a meditation on issues of vital importance to Muslim societies; achieving the balance between innovation and tradition, between cities and nature, global and local cultures.

Total of $500,000

The award was established by the Aga Khan, the Imam of the Shia Imami Ismaili Muslims, 20 years ago.

It is organised on the basis of a calendar spanning a three-year cycle, and is governed by a steering committee chaired the Aga Khan himself.

Awards totalling up to $500,000 - the largest architectural prize in the world -are made every three years to projects selected by an independent Master Jury.

Some 60 building projects have been recognised over the years.

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The Aga Khan Award for Architecture

Slide Show of the winning projects

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