Recognizing architecture of the other

Salama, Ashraf M (2008) Recognizing architecture of the other. Magaz Magazine (103). pp. 58-65.

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Abstract

The need for architectural awards and their validity is a point pondered on at times, even by main stream professional architects. Are they necessary? I would say yes. Awards are critical; they validate the achievements of professional architects while making their contributions more widely acknowledged by the public, hence promoting excellence in architecture. Some awards recognize the extraordinary lifetime achievement of an architect and others praise projects of virtues that offer guidance for changing the status quo toward a cheerful change. The Aga Khan Award for Architecture (AKAA) continues to centre its interest on these three areas. Being a technical reviewer for the Award during its eighth cycle and being in continuous and close contact with the team of the Aga Khan Award in Geneva for 15 years afforded me this opportunity of introducing glimpses of three decades of contribution to the developing world. The Award in essence addresses contexts in which Muslim communities have substantial presence and, in my opinion, it has contributed at the physical intervention level and at the architectural thought level in the whole developing or non-Western world. The Award’s concern and impact is not only expressed in the conservation of architectural heritage or revitalization of deteriorated communities or stylistic and symbolic interventions. It is about the enduring values of architecture in creating physical and visual manifestations that speak to their communities, relate effectively to their users and their economic and societal realities.