The Aga Khan award for architecture: unveiling the jewels of the built environment in the developing world

Ashraf M Salama

Research output: Contribution to specialist publicationEditorial


People including main stream professional architects sometimes wonder about the reason of or the need for architectural awards while questioning their validity: Are they necessary? I would say yes. Awards are critical; they validate the achievements of professional architects while making their contributions more widely acknowledged by the public, hence promoting excellence in architecture. Some awards recognise the extraordinary lifetime achievement of an architect and others praise projects of virtues that offer guidance for changing the status quo toward a positive change. The Aga Khan Award for Architecture (AKAA) continues to centre its interest on these three areas.

In essence, the Aga Khan Award for Architecture-AKAA addresses contexts in which Muslim communities have substantial presence and, in my view, it has contributed at the physical intervention level and at the architectural thought level in the whole developing or non-Western world. The Award's concern and impact is not only expressed in the conservation of architectural heritage or revitalisation of deteriorated communities or stylistic and symbolic interventions. It is about the enduring values of architecture in creating physical and visual manifestations that speak to their communities, relate effectively to their users and their economic and societal realities. In this editorial, I reflect on selected aspects of Award and its contributions.
Original languageEnglish
Specialist publicationArch-Peace Online Editorials
Publication statusPublished - 17 Jul 2008


  • Islamic world
  • Aga Khan Award
  • contemporary architecture
  • architectural practice


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