Bridge School in Xiashi in the Chinese province of Fujian (Photo courtesy of the Aga Khan Award for Architecture)
By Mohammad al-Asad
Every three years, the Aga Khan Award for Architecture announces a set of winning projects that are exemplars of excellence relating to the built environment in the Islamic world. The award recently announced the winning projects for its 2010 (eleventh) cycle. Out of over 400 projects submitted for the award, the award jury shortlisted nineteen. Of these 19 high-quality finalists, five were selected as winners.
There are numerous ways of reading the significances of this final choice of winning projects made by the award’s nine-member jury. Although small in number, they have much to say. For me, they illustrate the evolution of very interesting strategies for addressing the challenges and opportunities facing the built environment in the Islamic world, and also in emerging countries as a whole. These relate to environmental/ecological issues, to heritage and identity, to industrialisation, as well as to the gradual but definite shift of cultural and economic energy from the West to emerging economies.