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Aga Khan Award: $1 million prize recognizes world’s best new community architecture

Oscar Holland, CNN

A serene airport, a contemporary art museum and a series of refugee community centers are among the winners of the Aga Khan Award for Architecture, a major prize honoring new buildings in “communities in which Muslims have a significant presence.”

The designers behind the six winning projects, which were unveiled Thursday, will share a $1 million prize pot that is among the profession’s largest.

Awarded every three years, the prize often recognizes socially-minded architecture projects. Inits judging citation, the jury said the award focuses on the “difference architecture makes in the lives of people and local communities.”

Schools and learning centers featured prominently in the 20-strong shortlist, with one — the Kamanar Secondary School in Senegal — included among the winners. Elsewhere, a renovation project in Tripoli, Lebanon, was recognized for bringing an abandoned building by famed Brazilian architect Oscar Niemeyer back into use.

Larger-scale projects were honored, too. In Indonesia’s East Java, renowned local architect Andra Matin’s firm won for a grass-roofed airport that blends into the surrounding paddy fields. In the Iranian capital Tehran, meanwhile, the Argo Contemporary Art Museum and Cultural Centre was commended for breathing new life into a derelict former brewery which had been out of use since before the 1979 Iranian revolution.

Two of this year’s six winners are located in Bangladesh. One, a landscaping project in the western city of Jhenaidah, saw a riverside dump site revamped with brick-lined walkways and public ghats. The other comprises a series of six temporary community spaces for refugees in Cox’s Bazar, where hundreds of thousands of Rohingya Muslims fled to following Myanmar’s brutal military crackdown against them. Both projects were commended by the judges for addressing women’s needs.

The prize was established in 1977 by Aga Khan IV, a senior Imam of the Ismaili branch of Shia Islam, whose inherited title carries a claim to being a direct descendent of the Prophet Mohammed. The 85-year-old royal continues to chair the program’s steering committee, which has previously included notable architects including Frank Gehry and Zaha Hadid.

This year’s shortlist and winners were selected from more than 460 projects from around the world.

Previous winners have included mosques, community building and colleges, as well as landmark projects like Bangladesh’s parliament building, the National Museum of Qatar and the Petronas Towers in the Malaysian capital Kuala Lumpur.

Scroll through the gallery above to see the six winners of the 2022 Aga Khan Award.

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