‘Architecture is truly global, can also be deeply local’

Princess Zahra Aga Khan, the eldest child of the Aga Khan, has said architecture is truly global and can also be deeply local, noting that the projects and the people they honour exactly show that.

“They show us how architecture can create dialogue among people, build bridges between communities, and act as places of sanctuary for those in need,” she said.

The 15th cycle of the Award was concluded with a prize giving ceremony in Muscat on Monday night.

Winners of the 2022 Aga Khan Award for Architecture shared the stage with Crown Prince of Oman Sayyid Theyazin Bin Haitam Al Said and Princess Zahra Aga Khan at Royal Opera House of Musical Arts, Muscat. 

Officials of the Sultanate of Oman, architectural experts, the Award’s Steering Committee and members of its Master Jury, as well as dignitaries from around the world were present. 

Of the 463 projects from 55 countries nominated for this year’s award, the Master Jury selected 20 to visit and evaluate.

The six winning projects (2 from Bangladesh) of the 2022 Aga Khan Award for Architecture embody an inclusive, pluralistic outlook which were chosen to share the $1m prize. 

Other winning projects came from Indonesia, Iran, Lebanon and Senegal, and range equally widely in their execution. 

“The Award has been a lighthouse to those who feel we can design and build differently; to those who believe we have a responsibility to build appropriately,” said Princess Zahra Aga Khan.The Award for Architecture ceremony concluded the three-day event, which also celebrated laureates of the 2022 Aga Khan Music Awards. 

These laureates were featured in two gala concerts presented in the Royal Opera House Muscat’s House of Musical Arts. 

Read more: Global recognition proves Bangladeshi architecture can become an example for countries

The evening included a performance by the Aga Khan Master Musicians with special guest Yurdal Tokcan, an eminent oud player who served on the Master Jury of the 2022 Music Awards, and the screening of a film on the 2022 Award recipients.

“The Sultanate of Oman’s hosting of the ceremony of the Aga Khan Awards for Architecture and Music and its accompanying events support the objectives of Oman’s cultural strategy, which calls for an identity open to the cultures of peoples; affirms the continuous support for culture, literature and the arts; and puts the role of the Sultanate of Oman on the world map of culture as well as achieves partnership and integration with local and international institutions in the cultural fields,” said Sayyid bin Sultan Al-Busaidi, addressing the gathering.

The Aga Khan Award for Architecture, now in its 45th year, was established to encourage such architectural excellence.

The Award recognises the innovative use of local resources and appropriate technology to successfully address the physical, social and economic needs, and the cultural aspirations of communities in which Muslims have a significant presence. 

Above all, the Award celebrates projects that promote a spirit of pluralism: in the words of the Aga Khan, the embrace, rather than the elimination, of difference.

Princess Zahra Aga Khan, representing the Aga Khan at the Awards, paid tribute to the host, Sultan Haitham bin Tariq, and the Sultanate of Oman, as well as Sayyid Theyazin bin Haitam Al Said, for his presence. 

“Celebrating the Award here in Oman,” she said to the gathering, “reflects a deep and shared conviction that buildings can do more than simply house people and programmes, they can also reflect our deepest values.” 

She said that Aga Khan believes profoundly that architecture is not just about building but is a means of improving people’s quality of life.

Read more: This architect couple chose to live in Jhenaidah, designed an award-winning river space

Princess Zahra Aga Khan’s address emphasised both the pluralistic philosophy of the Award and the need for architecture to find solutions to physical and environmental concerns. 

“Over the years, the Award has been a lighthouse to those who feel we can design and build differently; to those who believe we have a responsibility to build appropriately – with thought, with consideration, and with the knowledge that architecture at its best is an inherently pluralistic enterprise.

It is our honour to recognise each of you for the spaces you designed in the service of humankind. Taken together, they help us better imagine an architecture for the future that will acknowledge the needs of diverse communities, respect the natural world, and enhance the quality of life,” she ended.

“Every project has a story – about how it has been conceived, built and lived – that cannot be explained simply through drawings and images,” said Farrokh Derakhshani, Director of the Aga Khan Award for Architecture.



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