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Aga awards for landmarks
Sandbag shelter, revamped school, library among seven ‘architectural
Express News Service

New Delhi, November 27: An architect who turned around the education
environment by revamping the school, another who came up with sandbag
shelters to replace tents — these were among the seven winners brought
together for the Aga Khan Award for Architecture, in its ninth cycle
this year.

With a spectacularly lit Humayun’s Tomb for a backdrop, Prime Minister
Manmohan Singh and the Aga Khan presented the awards to the
‘‘architectural wonders’’ selected from around 378 projects worldwide.
Dignitaries from across the globe witnessed the ceremony held in the
well of the world heritage site, surrounded by water channels strewn
with rose petals. It was The Aga Khan Foundation which funded the
restoration of the tomb — the first world heritage site in the country
to be restored with private funding.

The PM alluded to the wide spectrum of architectural designs and said
‘‘more than just being architectural awards, the event was celebrating
diversity in the lasting medium of stone and mortar. It is an honour for
India to host the triennial awards for the first time since its
conception 30 years ago’’.

The Aga Khan agreed. ‘‘It is most appropriate that this event is taking
place in India — a country rich in cultural heritage and pluralistic
traditions. This year’s awards recognises projects that cover the
spectrum of human capability and need,’’ he said.

Among them was Diebedo Francis Kere of village Gando in Burkina Faso who
redesigned the dilapidated primary school into a landmark, reshaping the
education scenario there. Nader Khalili, on the other hand, came up with
temporary sandbag shelters. The other awards went to Bibliotheca
Alexandria in Alexandria; restoration of the Al-Abbas Mosque at Asnaf,
Yemen; Old City of Jerusalem; B2 House in Ayvacik, Turkey and the
Petronas Towers in Kuala Lumpur.