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EDITOR IN CHIEF- ABDULLAH BIN SALIM AL SHUEILI

Architecture has immense potential to improve the quality of life

Agha Khan Awards for Music and Architecture concludes
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His Highness Sayyid Theyazin bin Haitham bin Tarik al Said, Minister of Culture, Sports and Youth, presided over the 15th edition of the Aga Khan Award for Architecture. Six recipients were honoured with the award for their architectural works promising solutions, and likely drivers of change in the future.


The concluding ceremony was held at the Royal Opera House Muscat in the presence of ministers, under-secretaries, members of the diplomatic corps and other dignitaries.


Aga Khan Music Programme artists presented a musical interlude with the participation of Yurdal Tukan, international musician and composer.


The jury announced the six winning projects for the current edition. The winning projects include Urban River Spaces and Community Spaces in Rohingya Refugee Response; Cox's Bazar from Bangladesh's Banyuwangi International airport; Blimbingsari, East Java from Indonesia; Argo Contemporary Art Museum and Cultural Centre, Tehran, Iran; Renovation of Niemeyer Guest House, Tripoli, Lebanon; and Kamanar Secondary School, Thionck Essyl, Senegal.


In his speech, Farrokh Derakhshani, Director of the Aga Khan Award for Architecture, said: "Since the first award ceremony in 1980, we have celebrated the winners of each triennial cycle all over the world, in places where Muslims are present and where they have enriched cultural heritage. These include the Topkapi Palace in Istanbul, the Alhambra in Granada, Registan Square in Samarkand, as well as important sites in Pakistan, Morocco, Syria, Egypt, India, Indonesia, Malaysia, Qatar, Portugal, the United Arab Emirates, Russia, and now in Oman".


He elaborated, "In this beautiful Opera House, which architect won an Aga Khan Award for Architecture in 1983 for a project in Malaysia, we bring to the world's attention six exemplary projects that showcase the power of architecture to bring people together, to inspire communities, to make physical the aspirations of societies, and to improve the quality of life."


Farrokh Derakhshani asserted that architecture is a collective enterprise that entails creativity, innovation, vision, and input from a host of players – from architects and clients - to fabricators, masons, and craftspeople. "We see in the six projects we celebrate this evening a spirit of inclusivity and pluralism that is the essence of the award in its ongoing mission to recognise excellence in architecture."


CULTURAL STRATEGY


Speaking on the occasion, Sayyid Said bin Sultan al Busaidy, Under-Secretary of the Ministry of Culture, Sports and Youth for Culture, said: "The Sultanate of Oman's hosting of the ceremony of Aga Khan Awards for Architecture and Music comes in support of the objectives of the cultural strategy, which calls for an identity open to the cultures of peoples. It is an affirmation of its continuous support for culture, literature and arts and to achieve one of its most important pillars, which is promoting cultural communication and highlighting the role of Oman in building the global cultural scene.


"Besides, this comes to confirm partnership and integration with local and international institutions in the cultural fields. This hosting fully confirms the extent of Oman's ability and capabilities to host such global events and achieve the cultural vision that the Sultanate of Oman is a cultural destination with a solid identity."


He added that Oman has enjoyed a distinguished hosting of two Aga Khan ceremonies for architecture and music in one country for the first time in the awards history. This coincides with the Aga Khan's celebration of its 45th year of the Architecture Award since its establishment in 1977, which works to encourage the concepts of architectural structures that successfully meet the needs and aspirations of societies in the fields of contemporary design, housing and community development. This, in its overall concept, enhances human values.


Expressing her gratitude for the host country, Princess Zahra Aga Khan said: "Oman is a country that is proud of its rich, traditional methods of building and living while also embracing new technologies and techniques. Celebrating the award here in Oman 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 indicated, "Tonight, the projects and the people we honour show how architecture that is truly global can also be deeply local; how it can bring the best talents and ideas from around the world to create buildings and spaces that achieve enduring excellence by being of their time and of their place. They show us how architecture can create a dialogue among people, build bridges between communities, and act as places of sanctuary for those in need."


QUALITY OF LIFE


The Princess mentioned that architecture has immense potential to improve the quality of life when done sensitively and well. It is this rigorous pursuit of hope for a better future that has characterised the Aga Khan Award for Architecture from its inception.


Created in 1977, the Aga Khan Award for Architecture is not simply a prize – it is an intellectual search, an inclusive process, one of deep reflection and meaningful action.


"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," she added.


For the next editions of the award, Princess Zahra said: "It is hoped that future cycles can highlight architecture that seeks to build without depleting natural resources, construction that takes place without harming critical ecosystems and habitats, urban planning that privileges access to green and blue spaces and works that increases and improves access to renewable energy resources."


"As ever, the award will seek to identify, champion, and cultivate an architecture that thinks intensely about the lessons of the past, the needs of the present, and anticipates changes that will condition the future," she said.


@zainabalnasseri


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