- Title: Iran, China and Denmark among Aga Khan Award for Architecture winners
- Date: 3rd October 2016
- Summary: AL AIN, UNITED ARAB EMIRATES (OCTOBER 3, 2016) (REUTERS) EXTERIOR OF AL JAHLI FORT IN THE EMIRATE OF AL AIN, WHERE THE AGA KHAN AWARD FOR ARCHITECTURE (AKAA) WINNERS ARE ANNOUNCED VARIOUS OF AKAA OFFICIALS AND EMIRATI OFFICIALS SHAKING HANDS AT FORT AFTER ANNOUNCEMENT OF WINNERS
- Embargoed: 18th October 2016 13:58
- Keywords: Aga Khan Islamic architecture award UAE Islam
- Location: AL AIN, UNITED ARAB EMRIATES / DHAKA AND GAIBANDIA, BANGLADESH / BEIJING, CHINA / TEHRAN, IRAN / BEIRUT, LEBANON / COPENHAGEN, DENMARK
- City: AL AIN, UNITED ARAB EMRIATES / DHAKA AND GAIBANDIA, BANGLADESH / BEIJING, CHINA / TEHRAN, IRAN / BEIRUT, LEBANON / COPENHAGEN, DENMARK
- Country: United Arab Emirates
- Topics: Arts/Culture/Entertainment
- Reuters ID: LVA00152G7YVP
- Aspect Ratio: 16:9
- Story Text: The Aga Khan Award for Architecture on Monday (October 3) named the six winners of its prestigious $1 million prize for projects serving Islamic communities around the world.
Organizers, gathered in the palm oasis city of Al Ain in the United Arab Emirates, said the triennial prize honoured exemplars of tolerance and innovation at a time when the Islamic World faced threats from wars, militancy and xenophobia.
348 nominated projects from 69 countries were whittled down to the six winners and announced in a palm and thatch-lined hall in the 19th century Jahili fort on the fringes of Arabia's Empty Quarter desert.
A meticulously renovated mudbrick keep with crenelated towers and an ornate wooden gate, Jahili was praised by organizers as a model of historical restoration.
This year's winners - from China, Bangladesh, Iran, Lebanon and Denmark - were chosen by an independent jury of architectural experts appointed by the Aga Khan Foundation, named after a wealthy leader in the Ismaili branch of Shi'ite Islam.
"This award has been created to show how we can have a positive impact on the quality of life through architecture. Because architecture plays a very important role in this change. One can say that it's a tool for change and can be used in a positive way," said Farrokh Derakhshani, director of Aga Khan Architecture Award (AKAA).
One of the award recipients was an urban park called Superkilen in a deprived area of the Danish capital Copenhagen, creating an outdoor meeting place for the some 60 nationalities from Islamic countries and beyond - including many refugees.
Plied by beer-sipping Danish youth and pram-pushing women in headscarves alike, the space lures the neighbourhood together with its Islamic themed sculptures, skateboard ramps and swings spread upon a surface decorated with undulating white lines.
"The goal is to find the common links that bring people together. There is recognition of differences and diversity and the building is a tool that brings people together. It is a way to showcase commonalities between the Muslim communities that exist in all regions of the world, from Indonesia to South America," said Mohammed Al Asad, a member of the Award's steering committee.
"Of course there are tensions in Europe between the immigrant and host populations. This project is unique because it brought together all the different Muslim communities, from Afghanistan to Iran, the Arab world and Africa, and reached out to them and asked that they identify issues that tie them most to their heritage, to their identity," he said, adding that the park incorporated decorative patterns suggested by local residents hailing from Morocco to Iraq.
Another winner was a mosque in a poor and flood-prone area of Bangladesh, where moving sunlight splashes varying patterns onto the dark interior floor and local children are encouraged to play within the space cooled by local brickwork.
The bare modernist space unusual for a mosque deserved recognition for pushing the boundaries of what a traditional religious space should look like, Derakhshani said.
The award money of $1 million will be split among the architecture firms and clients involved in the winning projects, and will partly go toward outreach activities for them to spread design and building knowledge.
The winners will be honoured at an awards ceremony at the Al Jahili fort in November.
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