Please find a few extracts from his Highness the Agha Khan's speech:
"Many of you will remember my personal concern, back in the mid-1970’s, that this conversation was scarcely even taking place.
Discussion and debate about the built environment in the Islamic world was then a very thin proposition. The continuity of Islamic architecture had sadly lapsed - weakened by the heavy hand of colonialization, by modernization and globalization, by the lack of architectural training in Islamic contexts, and even by the development of new construction materials in the industrialized world. The result was a paucity both of indigenous architects and of foreign architects working with distinction in Islamic settings and idioms.
Historically, the arts, including architecture, have taken their principal inspiration from religious faith. But when art is separated from faith-based roots, other influences can dominate - including soulless technology and empty secularization.
At that time I used the term “vacuum” to describe the Islamic architectural scene. The initial goal of our Awards programme was to replace that vacuum with an energized debate.
Why should we emphasize an Islamic approach to architecture? Our Master Jury, in responding to this question, has described how global forces now threaten the values of “memory, heritage and belonging,” and how the built environment can help meet that challenge.
At the same time, in looking at the places we have met and the projects we have honoured, we also see enormous diversity. Diversity, in fact, is part of the essence of Islam.
Nor does respecting the past mean copying the past. Indeed, if we hold too fast to what is past, we run the risk of crushing that inheritance.
The best way to honour the past is to seize the future.
These, then, are four of the major concerns that I would submit for further discussion. What does architectural excellence mean in the context of Islamic traditions and aspirations? How do we reach a wider array of constituents? Can we expand our social and economic relevance? And how do we best employ innovative technologies?
These concerns, of course, will lead us to further questions. How and where do we teach about architecture? How can we anticipate and occasionally help steer the processes of change? How do we best reward and learn from those who are most successful? How can we share our lessons with others outside the Ummah?"
In the next few posts, the 5 recipients awarded will be presented in this blog
If you are impatient, visit the Aga Khan Website for more on all these wonders: