Your Highness Sayyid Theyazin bin Haitam Al Said,
Members of the Diplomatic Corps,
Ladies and Gentlemen,
Welcome to the 2022 Aga Khan Award for Architecture, marking 45 years of reflection, engagement and commitment to the built environment. For over four decades, the Award has elevated attention to tradition, innovation and excellence, while pushing contemporary practice to engage more sensitively with pressing needs: the challenges of urbanisation, the fractures of diverse societies and the requirements of a warming planet.
Today I have the honour of representing my father, His Highness the Aga Khan, at an event that has always been of particular importance to him. His Highness believes profoundly that architecture is not just about building; it means improving people’s quality of life.
On my father’s behalf, I would like to express my sincere gratitude to our host, His Majesty Sultan Haitham bin Tariq and the Sultanate of Oman. I would also like to thank His Highness Sayyid Theyazin bin Haitam Al Said for his presence with us tonight.
Oman is a country that is proud of its rich, traditional methods of building and living, while also embracing new technologies and techniques. Celebrating the Award here in Oman reflects a deep and shared conviction that buildings can do more than simply house people and programmes, they can also reflect our deepest values.
Tonight, the projects and the people we honour show how architecture that is truly global can also be deeply local; how it can bring the best talents and ideas from around the world to create buildings and spaces that achieve enduring excellence by being of their time and of their place. They show us how architecture can create dialogue among people, build bridges between communities and act as places of sanctuary for those in need.
Architecture has immense potential to improve quality of life when done sensitively and well. It is this rigorous pursuit of hope for a better future that has characterised the Aga Khan Award for Architecture from its inception. Created in 1977, the Aga Khan Award for Architecture is not just simply a prize – it is an intellectual search, an inclusive process, one of deep reflection and meaningful action.
Over the years, the Award has been a lighthouse for those who feel we can design and build differently; to those who believe that we have a responsibility to build appropriately – with thought, with consideration and with the knowledge that architecture at its best is an inherently pluralistic exercise.
The six projects we honour tonight are beacons in our collective search for solutions that will help point the way forward for others.
Inspired by these six laureates, future cycles of the Award will continue to explore new ground, seek other promising solutions and chart a path towards peace and progress.
It is indeed our hope that future cycles can highlight:
- Architecture that seeks to build without depleting natural resources;
- Construction that takes place without harming critical ecosystems and habitats;
- Urban planning that privileges access to green and blue spaces; and
- Work that increases and improves access to renewable energy resources.
As ever, the Award will seek to identify, to champion and cultivate an architecture that thinks intensely about the lessons of the past, the needs of the present and anticipates the changes that will come in the future.
In closing these remarks, I would like to thank all of those who have contributed to the Aga Khan Award for Architecture over these many decades, including this cycle’s Award Steering Committee, for their foresight and guidance. They have continually focused the Award on excellence, but defining this as an architecture that reimagines reality, charting new directions, new possibilities – new futures.
With this in mind, I would also like to thank and acknowledge the Master Jury for their emphasis on the physicality of real spaces that bring people together – spaces that have a capacity to heal and to restore a sense of dignity.
And to the Onsite Review team, our gratitude for your observations and investigations during the difficult times of the pandemic. Your dedication to understanding the physical and social realities of our nominees required special commitment during this cycle. Thank you.
And finally, I ask all of you to join me, on behalf of His Highness the Aga Khan, in congratulating the six recipients of this 15th cycle of the Aga Khan Award for Architecture.
Your projects acknowledge the needs of diverse communities, respect the natural world and enhance the quality of life.