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.