Winning season: the Aga Khan Award for Architecture releases 2016 shortlist

New Power Station, Baku, Azerbaijan
The Aga Khan Award for Architecture shortlist has been announced for 2016, featuring 19 projects. Pictured: New Power Station, Baku, Azerbaijan, by Erginoğlu & Çalışlar Architects (2013).
(Image credit: Cemal Emden)

We are definitely entering the awards season for architecture. Following hot on the heels of the Pritzker Prize announcement, RIBA’s Regional Awards and the recent shortlist announcement of the RIBA International Prize, the Aga Khan international gong for architecture is also joining the race to find the world's best new offering in the field. 

The prestigious Aga Khan Foundation and its coveted Award for Architecture (since 1977) has been supporting and rewarding architecture and building concepts for ‘communities in which Muslims have a significant presence’.

This year, 19 projects have been selected from a pool of some 350 applicants to make up the honour’s thirteenth cycle. In the end, there is $1 million US Dollars prize money to be handed to the worthy winners.

The nominees are varied, in both geographical location and typology. From urban planning in Copenhagen and infrastructure in Baku, to a floating school in Lagos and a contemporary tower in Qatar, the selection is rich.

This award is after all known for its wide range, examining from humble community projects made with modest budgets, to state-of-the-art high rises. The common thread is that they all need to ‘not only exhibit architectural excellence but also improve the overall quality of life’ for their communities, explain the organisers.

As we speak, reports are being drawn up by local and international experts, evaluating each of the 19 buildings. These will be examined by the Grand Jury, who will announce the overall winner in autumn this year.

Judges this year include Riwaq Centre for Architectural Conservation founder Suad Amiry, architect Emre Arolat, Columbia University’s Akeel Bilgrami, Arquitectura Viva editor Luis Fernàndez-Galiano, Herald Publications’ Hameed Haroon, University of Johannesburg’s Lesley Lokko, Harvard University’s Mohsen Mostafavi, architect Dominique Perrault and Web Structures director Hossein Rezai. 

Bait Ur Rouf Mosque, Dhaka, Bangladesh

Bait Ur Rouf Mosque, Dhaka, Bangladesh, by Sufia Khatun (2012).

(Image credit: Sandro di Carlo Darsa)

Friendship Centre, Gaibandha, Bangladesh

Friendship Centre, Gaibandha, Bangladesh, by URBANA / Kashef Mahboob Chowdhury (2011).

(Image credit: Eric Chenal)

Top view of Superkilen Aga Khan development network

Superkilen, Copenhagen, Denmark, by Bjarke Ingels Group (2011).

(Image credit: Eric Chenal)

The house of 40 knots designed by Habibeh Madjdabadi and Alireza Mashhadimirza with contemporary facade.

Knots House, Tehran, Iran, by Alireza Zahed (2014).

(Image credit: Mohammad Hassan Ettefagh)

View of Manouchehri House Aga Khan development

Manouchehri House, Kashan, Iran, by Akbar Helli and Shahnaz Nader (2010)

(Image credit: Mohammad Hassan Ettefagh)

Tabiat Pedestrian Bridge, Tehran

Tabiat Pedestrian Bridge, Tehran, Iran, by Diba Tensile Architecture / Leila Araghian, (2014).

(Image credit: Mohammad Hassan Ettefagh)

View of Royal Academy for Nature Conservation, Ajloun, Jordan

Royal Academy for Nature Conservation, Ajloun, Jordan, by Khammash Architects (2014).

(Image credit: Cemal Emden)

Bunateka Libraries, Kosovo

Bunateka Libraries, various locations, Kosovo, by Bujar Nrecaj Architects (2012)

(Image credit: Cemal Emden)

Exterior of Issam Fares Institute ,Beirut, Lebanon

Issam Fares Institute for Public Policy and International Affairs, Beirut, Lebanon, by Zaha Hadid Architects (2014)

(Image credit: Cemal Emden)

Exterior of Casa-Port New Railway Station, Casablanca, Morocco

Casa-Port New Railway Station, Casablanca, Morocco, by AREP and Groupe 3 Architectes (2014).

(Image credit: Didier Boy de la Tour)

Exterior view of Guelmim School of Technology, Guelmim, Morocco

Guelmim School of Technology, Guelmim, Morocco, by Saad El Kabbaj, Driss Kettani, Mohamed Amine Siana (2011).

(Image credit: Fernando Guerra)

Exterior of Makoko Floating School

Makoko Floating School, Lagos, Nigeria, by NLÉ (2013).

(Image credit: NLÉ)

Doha Tower, Doha, Qatar

Doha Tower, Doha, Qatar, by Ateliers Jean Nouvel (2012).

(Image credit: Cemal Emden)

King Fahad National Library, Riyadh, Saudi Arabia

King Fahad National Library, Riyadh, Saudi Arabia, by Gerber Architekten International (2013).

(Image credit: Cemal Emden)

Top view of Thread Artist Residency & Cultural Centre, Sinthian, Senegal

Thread Artist Residency & Cultural Centre, Sinthian, Senegal, by Toshiko Mori Architects (2014).

(Image credit: Dev TV)

Front view of Ceuta Public Library, Ceuta, Spain

Ceuta Public Library, Ceuta, Spain, by Paredes Pedrosa Arquitectos (2013). 

(Image credit: Cemal Emden)


For more information on the Aga Khan Award for Architecture visit the foundation’s website

Ellie Stathaki is the Architecture & Environment Director at Wallpaper*. She trained as an architect at the Aristotle University of Thessaloniki in Greece and studied architectural history at the Bartlett in London. Now an established journalist, she has been a member of the Wallpaper* team since 2006, visiting buildings across the globe and interviewing leading architects such as Tadao Ando and Rem Koolhaas. Ellie has also taken part in judging panels, moderated events, curated shows and contributed in books, such as The Contemporary House (Thames & Hudson, 2018), Glenn Sestig Architecture Diary (2020) and House London (2022).