Keeping the faith...

Monday 09 Sep 2013

From Austria to Palestine - the five winners of this year's Aga Khan Award for Architecture

Five exemplary projects have split a tremendous prize fund of $1m presented by His Royal Highness the Aga Khan at a ceremony in Lisbon. Hailing from five different countries, the projects have each been recognised for their ability meet the needs and aspirations of communities in which Muslims have a significant presence. One of the most highly sought after international prizes in the industry, the winners of this year’s Aga Khan Award for Architecture are: Bernardo Bader Architects; Marc Mimram Architecture; ICHTO East Azerbaijan Office; Riwaq - Centre for Architectural Conservation; and Studio Tamassociati.

Islamic Cemetery, Altach, Austria by Bernardo Bader Architects 

The Islamic Cemetery scheme in Altach fills a void that has affected the Islamic community in the region for many years. Up until this award-winning project, Muslims in Altach were unable to carry out burials according to the Islamic rite, often sending their dead to other countries to by buried. This new cemetery by Bernardo Bader Architects creates a suitable location for the Islamic community to bury their dead.

Five grave fields are orientated towards Mecca and a prayer room decorated with Kufic calligraphy in metal mesh are coupled with a single-storey building. The walls are higher towards to the road and lower near the mountains but all are broken to ensure a free-flowing pathway through the building. Exposed reinforced concrete and oak wood are the core construction materials with a latticework of red concrete snaking across the walls.

Rabat-Salé Urban Infrastructure Project, Morocco by Marc Mimram Architecture

Designed by Marc Mimram Architecture, the Rabat-Salé Infrastructure Project is a looping bridge that links the two cities. With two lanes for vehicular traffic and one for a tramway, the asymmetrical form sports arched concrete supports that vary subtly, creating a dramatic silhouette at dusk. Part of a wider urban plan, the Hassan II Bridge also provides a sheltered space for markets and leisure activities.   

The jury noted: “The Bridge profile is low, acting as an impressive horizontal extension of an existing flat plateau, presenting respectful views of the Hassan Tower. Built with great care and high quality of detailing and construction precision, the Bridge has a thin profile and elegant, fluid geometry. It is a pivotal icon, reinforcing the identity of the place, and symbolises a new progressive future for the twin cities.”

Rehabilitation of Tabriz Bazaar, Tabriz, Iran by ICHTO East Azerbaijan Office

Meandering through 5.5km of covered bazaars, the Tabriz Bazaar covers 27 hectares and was added to the World Heritage List in 2010. ICHTO East Azerbaijan Office met some resistance when the idea of rehabilitating the Bazaar was broached but following a highly successful pilot project, the team embarked on a wider scheme to repair the crumbling brickwork throughout the expansive public realm.

Experts from the team worked with local masons to share knowledge of how best to repair and refresh the brickwork, with traditional techniques being used throughout. The vaulting, domes and timchech have been restored and a management framework established to prevent the area from falling into disrepair once again.

Revitalisation of Birzeit Historic Centre, Birzeit, Palestine by Riwaq - Centre for Architectural Conservation

The revitalisation of Birzeit Historic Centre is part of a much wider scheme that will eventually incorporate 50 villages in a vast conservation masterplan to protect ‘historic integrity’ and preserve traditional values. Using local materials and affordable techniques, Riwaq - Centre for Architectural have restored a number of community buildings, replaced sections of wall to secure saveable structures and upgraded the public realm.

The jury concluded: “By reversing a process of neglect and erasure within a complex and difficult political context, the project manages to transform not only a neglected historic core but also people’s lives, and restores not only buildings but the dignity of their users.”

Salam Cardiac Surgery Centre, Khartoum, Sudan by Studio Tamassociati

The Studio Tamassociati-designed Salam Centre for Cardiac Surgery has been a fantastically successful scheme in Sudan, treating patients from the local vicinity but also from 23 other countries who travel by train to reach the centre. In total the facility offers 63 beds and is overseen by 300 local staff, 150 of whom sleep at the onsite Medical Staff Accommodation Compound. Natural ventilation and lighting are key components of the three operating theatres, located around large courtyards and in close connection with the diagnostics labs and ward.

The containers used to transport the construction materials were reused by the design team in the realisation of the Accommodation Compound. Each unit in the block is built using 1.5 containers and comprises sleeping facilities, a bathroom and a small veranda. The cafeteria and support services are located in seven 40ft containers with all water and heating powered by a solar farm. 

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