His Highness the Aga Khan: “my interest in architecture was driven … by the question of what to do to improve the quality of life of the ultra-poor”

Architecture is the only art that is a direct reflector of poverty.
His Highness the Aga Khan

Cover flap (Image: Archnet)
Cover flap (Image: Archnet)

The Aga Khan Award for Architecture is given every three years to projects that set new standards of excellence in architecture, planning practices, historic preservation and landscape architecture. Through its efforts, the Award seeks to identify and encourage building concepts that successfully address the needs and aspirations of societies across the world, in which Muslims have a significant presence.

The selection process emphasizes architecture that not only provides for people’s physical, social and economic needs, but that also stimulates and responds to their cultural expectations. Particular attention is given to building schemes that use local resources and appropriate technology in innovative ways, and to projects likely to inspire similar efforts elsewhere. *

In an interview with His Highness the Aga Khan, Philip Jodidio, Editor of Under the Eaves of Architecture asked how His Highness became involved in architecture:

I travelled extensively, meeting with various communities in different parts of the world. I came into contact with visible forms of poverty that I had not known before…. The first indicator of a community’s poverty, what you see is the physical context in which
they live. Therefore, my interest in architecture was driven at that time by the question of what to do to improve the quality of life of the ultra-poor. That brought into focus a very serious that impacted my thinking on architecture.

It was apparent that the material needs to change this process were so enormous that the idea that these parts of the world could ever enter the domain of the consumer society was simply unrealistic. What you were doing at the time was to look at every way possible to obtain the highest return on any investment, whether it was for a school or a hospital, or housing…. Architecture is the only art that is a direct reflector of poverty.”

References:
* Aga Khan Award for Architecture
Under the Eaves: The Aga Khan: Builder and Patron, Archnet
The Ismaili

Compiled by Nimira Dewji

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