By Farhat Afzal | CONTEXT

For the third consecutive cycle, two out of six winners of the Aga Khan Award for Architecture are projects designed by Bangladeshi architects. On 22nd September, winners of the 2022 Aga Khan Award for Architecture were announced, where two of the coveted positions were awarded to Urban River Spaces in Jhenaidah by Co.Creation Architects / Khondaker Hasibul Kabir and Suhailey Farzana, and Community Spaces in Rohingya Refugee Response by Rizvi Hassan, Khwaja Fatmi, and Saad Ben Mostafa. The 2022 award ceremony was held in Muscat, Sultanate of Oman, from October 28-30.

 

Established in 1977 to recognize projects which establish new standards that determine excellence in architecture, the Aga Khan Award for Architecture is widely acknowledged as one of the most highly esteemed recognitions for built environment professionals worldwide. The Award aims to identify and recognize design ideas that provide successful solutions to challenges faced by communities worldwide, and is generally awarded to projects that are built with sensitivity towards the environment and the communities it will serve.

 

Urban River Spaces in Jhenaidah is one such project that is fully geared towards its community. Although the city of Jhenaidah originated around the confluence of the Naboganga river, over the course of time, the usage and access to the riverbank decreased. That’s when the local community and Khondaker Hasibul Kabir and Suhailey Farzana of Co.Creation Architects, worked together to redesign the ghat along the river. With the help of local builders and masons, two ghats were constructed, while preserving all the trees and vegetation of the existing site. These ghats are now fully utilized by the communities as a functional space by the river, with walkways running adjacent to it.

 

In 2017, the sudden influx of refugees who fled from Myanmar to Bangladesh, and took shelter in Cox’s Bazar, resulted in a lot of strain on the infrastructure and services that existed in the region. Thus, the world’s largest refugee camp was built in Cox’s Bazar to accommodate these large numbers of people. This camp is where architects Rizvi Hassan, Khwaja Fatmi, and Saad Ben Mostafa designed six sustainably built structures that addressed the needs of the local communities. The designs for the centers were mostly carried out on the site itself, with no prior drawings or models. The team made the best use of local craftsmen and locally available building materials to implement their design solutions in a sustainable way.

Other winners of the 2022 Aga Khan Award for Architecture included: Banyuwangi International Airport, Blimbingsari, East Java, a building that is a beautiful coalescing of site, function and architecture; Argo Contemporary Art Museum and Cultural Center, Tehran, a conservation project which transformed a brewery into a museum for contemporary art; Renovation of Niemeyer Guest House in Tripoli; and Kamanar Secondary School, Thionck Essyl, a project which dealt with architecture, building technologies, landscape and urbanism with equal amounts of priority and expertise.

The Aga Khan Award for Architecture is awarded every three years. This year, which marks the Award’s 45th year of inception, the Master Jury shortlisted 20 projects out of 463 nominated ones. Following this, an expert team of reviewers conducted on-site evaluation of each shortlisted project, which led to the Jury selecting the final six winners. Members of the 2022 Master Jury were Nada Al Hassan, conservation architect; Kazi Khaleed Ashraf, Director-General of Bengal Institute; Amale Andraos, Dean of Columbia University GSAPP; Kader Attia, Berlin and Paris-based artist; Sibel Bozdoğan, Professor at Boston University; Paris-based architect Lina Ghotmeh; architect and Professor at TU Munich, Francis Kéré; Pritzker Prize winner Anne Lacaton, and Dean at the Cooper Union School of Architecture in New York, Nader Tehrani.