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The quest for architectural excellence in non-Western societies : reflections on the Aga Khan Award for Architecture in its 11th cycle

Salama, Ashraf M (2011) The quest for architectural excellence in non-Western societies : reflections on the Aga Khan Award for Architecture in its 11th cycle. Arch-Peace Online Editorials.

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Abstract

Repeatedly, in non-Western societies, successes and failures of designed environments go unnoticed. Opportunities for discussing lessons learned from intervening in natural or built environments are missed. Initiating change in the physical environment takes place in many cases as if there was no history or past to learn from. Frequently, gaps in knowledge transmission do exist because of the lack of rigorous documentation, especially give that assessment studies and critical writings have not matured in many parts of those societies. One way to bridge knowledge transmission gaps is to unveil merits of best practices through critical assessment of projects with the ultimate goal of creating a sharper public awareness of the role of architecture in enhancing and celebrating human activities, of its socio-cultural, environmental, and aesthetic qualities. The Aga Khan Award for Architecture-AKAA continues to represent such a way. In this editorial, I reflect on selected projects of the Award’s 11th cycle, which were awarded or shortlisted.