The Aga Khan Award for Architecture established by the Aga Khan in 1977 is given every three years as a means to identify and encourage building concepts that successfully address the needs and aspirations of societies across the world. More so in regions where Muslims have a significant presence.
Unlike other architectural awards it not only rewards architects, but also identifies municipalities, builders, clients, master artisans and engineers who have played important roles in the realisation of a project.
The recipients of this year’s award are:
- Revitalisation of Muharraq in Bahrain which highlights the World Heritage site’s pearling history
- Arcadia Education Project, in South Kanarchor, Bangladesh is a modular structure that takes a novel approach to a riverine site that is often flooded for five months every year
- Palestinian Museum, in Birzeit, which crowns a terraced hill overlooking the Mediterranean and is the recipient of the LEED Gold certification because of its sustainable construction
- Public Spaces Development Programme, in the Republic of Tatarstan, a programme that, to date, has improved 328 public spaces all over Tatarstan
- Alioune Diop University Teaching and Research Unit, in Bambey, Senegal where a scarcity of resources led to the use of bio-climatic strategies
Alioune Diop University Teaching and Research Unit
The award website details that the university was selected for the use of bio-climatic strategies, including a large double roof canopy and latticework that avoids direct solar radiation but allows air to flow through it. Other ecologically minded measures include a series of stone-lined basins filled with gravel and vegetation, where both rainwater from the roof and filtered wastewater are directed.
By employing locally familiar construction techniques and following sustainability principles, the project succeeded in keeping costs and maintenance demands to a minimum, while still making a bold architectural statement.
The university was founded in 2007 as part of the Senegalese government’s efforts to decentralise higher-education provision, seeking both to encourage youth to stay in rural areas and to provide educational programmes appropriate to these contexts.
Speaking on the achievement, Ibrahim Wone, chief of cabinet, ministry of higher education is quoted by Africa News saying, “This victory can have a great impact in Senegal and Africa because the building was created by the environment – by taking the temperature of certain local realities, etc. – it is a great one that can have a great impact on Senegal and Africa and can be replicated everywhere”.
Sidy Camara, director of environment and security, Alione Diop University added that, “We are looking at an intelligent building that allows us to be self-sufficient in energy, which is a good thing in our countries when we know what we are paying for in terms of energy consumption. Water and acidity management is very important. Today, the water from the building is recovered in the filtered basins, which makes it possible to water the plants, while even the water from the air conditioning is recovered in these basins, which is a major innovation”.