I was fortunate to attend yesterday the 2016 Aga Khan Award for Architecture Winner’s Seminar. The Dubai JW Marriott Marquis Hotel’s conference room was full of architects, art historians and artists, along with the Aga Khan and local dignitaries. The Seminar presented the 2016 winners, with the broader aim to stimulate discussion on diversity, inclusivity, scale, place-making, and technology transfer.

Organized in two sessions, a panel of winners, Master Jury and Steering Committee members discussed the issues and themes raised in the 13th cycle of the Aga Khan Award for Architecture. Aga Khan Professor of Islamic Architecture at MIT, Nasser Rabbat, was particularly focusing on the issue of context. Architecture in context, just like diverse forms of arts, is definitely not a radical innovation; however, knowledge production on contextual practices and “context” as part of the “architectural formula” are emerging as global trends. All panelists argued that buildings can and should engage in a dialogue with the history, beliefs and needs of a particular place, time and community, whether in China, Bangladesh, Lebanon, Iran or Denmark.


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