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Students learn about the Aga Khan Award for Architecture during a visit to the Al Jahili Fort in Al Ain. Fatima Kamran

Anticipation has been growing in the United Arab Emirates since the announcement in October that the country will host the presentation ceremony of the 2016 Aga Khan Award for Architecture. Over the past few weeks, members of the Jamat have been learning about the Award, discussing the winning projects and visiting an exhibition at the site of the forthcoming award ceremony.

Hanif Kara is a member of the Steering Committee for the 2014-16 cycle of the Aga Khan Award for Architecture. AKDN

As the winners of the 13th cycle of the Aga Khan Award for Architecture were announced, TheIsmaili.org’s Elisha Nathoo sat down with Professor Hanif Kara, a member of the Steering Committee to talk about what the Award has achieved in the nearly four decades since it was established.

The National Parliament of Bangladesh, designed by Louis Kahn, won the Aga Khan Award for Architecture in 1989. AKTC

At the end of February, a group of Ismailis toured the National Assembly complex in Dhaka. They discovered that the Louis Kahn-designed winner of the 1989 Aga Khan Award for Architecture remains a formidable presence in the architectural consciousness of Bangladesh.

The Ismaili Muslim Youth Choir of Dallas performing at "Dialogs with Islamic Art", an event introducing the first exhibition of the Keir Collection at the Dallas Museum of Art. Shehzad Bhayani

For the next 15 years, objects from one of the world’s largest private collections of Islamic art are on loan to the Dallas Museum of Art. An event introducing the first exhibition from the collection opened in September 2015 with a special performance by the Ismaili Muslim Youth Choir of Dallas.

The Badakhshan Ensemble performing at the Académie Diplomatique Internationale in November 2015.

The halls of the Académie Diplomatique Internationale in Paris were filled with the mystical music of the Pamir mountains during a concert given by the Badakhshan Ensemble last month. Organised by the Ismaili Council for France in conjunction with the Aga Khan Music Initiative, the performance captivated members of the Jamat.

Dr Farhad Daftary signs books for audience members at a book launch event in Mumbai, India earlier this month. ITREB India

The Co-Director of the IIS, Dr Farhad Daftary was recently in Mumbai to launch two new publications that trace the progress of modern Ismaili studies from the contributions of Wladimir Ivanow to contemporary times. The event was an opportunity for bridge-building among communities that share a common history.

A conceptual pencil sketch of the Aga Khan Park in Toronto, designed by landscape architect Vladimir Djurovic. AKTC

When Vladimir Djurovic received the commission to design the Aga Khan Park in Toronto, he travelled to gardens in different parts of the Muslim world. In an interview he gave to TheIsmaili.org, the landscape architect describes the essence of this new greenspace, which will be formally inaugurated on Monday.

Mawlana Hazar Imam at the Prince Aly Khan Hospital. (Mumbai, 1958) A. H. Ukani

Over the past decades, Mawlana Hazar Imam has visited India to meet with the country’s leaders, review the progress of Aga Khan Development Network initiatives, and launch new projects. This photo gallery showcases some of his visits over the years.

Professor Nasser Rabbat speaking at the Royal Ontario Museum on 14 July 2014. Ibrahim Meru

Cairo has been the talk of Toronto — at least in the halls of the Royal Ontario Museum (ROM) and the Ismaili Centre. Through a series of lectures, leading scholars have been journeying into the thousand-year-old city, describing how it has been reshaped over the centuries, and sharing the historic impressions recorded by medieval visitors in their writings.

TheIsmaili.org

The opening ceremony of the Aga Khan Museum took place on 12 September 2014, following the opening of the Ismaili Centre, Toronto earlier in the afternoon by Canadian Prime Minister Stephen Harper and Mawlana Hazar Imam. They also marked the opening of the museum, together with Prince Amyn and the Honourable Shelly Glover, Minister of Canadian Heritage and Official Languages. Among the distinguished guests at the ceremony were Prince Rahim, Princess Salwa, and Prince Hussain, former Governor General Adrienne Clarkson, government leaders, diplomats, and leaders of Jamati and Imamat institutions.

Prince Amyn speaks at the opening ceremony of the Aga Khan Museum on 12 September 2014. Mo Govindji

Toronto, 12 September 2014 — The Aga Khan Museum shall be “a gateway into the history and artistic traditions of the Muslim world,” announced Prince Amyn, Vice-Chair of the museum’s Board of Directors. He was speaking at the opening ceremony of the Toronto museum in the presence of Mawlana Hazar Imam and Canadian Prime Minister Stephen Harper.

The Aga Khan Museum’s permanent collection has over 1,000 artefacts, and each one has a fascinating story to tell. Gary Otte

Despite its exquisite collection of Islamic art, objects are not the sole focus of the Aga Khan Museum. When it opens its doors on 18 September, the museum will showcase the diversity of performance and visual arts that are celebrated in the cultures of Muslim civilisations.

Ibn al-Haytham was a Fatimid-era scholar and polymath who wrote over 200 scientific works in subjects like astronomy, mathematics, medicine, optics, philosophy, and physics.

Born in 965 CE, Ibn al-Haytham is considered by many to be the world’s first scientist. He also invented the camera obscura, the earliest avatar of the modern digital camera that you carry around in your pocket.

Discover fascinating details about ancient cities recorded by Nasir Khusraw in his “Safar-nama”, from Balkh in Northern Afghanistan, to Aleppo, Jerusalem, Medina, Mecca and Basra.

Nasir Khusraw was a major Muslim intellectual, philosopher and traveller of the 11th century, and a prominent Shia Ismaili Da‘i. A new digital resource from The Institute of Ismaili Studies makes his famous Safar-nama accessible in a way that it never has been before.

Chartered in 1983 as Pakistan’s first private university, Aga Khan University is an international University with 11 teaching sites spread over 8 countries. The University’s School of Nursing in Karachi, predates the Charter, having opened its

Three decades is a relatively short period in the history of a university, but the impact that the Aga Khan University has had in its formative years is not to be underestimated. And while the institution may be young, its spirit is far older.

Mawlana Hazar Imam and Prince Amyn visit the site of the Aga Khan Museum, the Ismaili Centre, Toronto and their Park. The development has been described by the local media as a “crown jewel” for the Don Mills neighborhood where it is situated.

As the Royal Architectural Institute of Canada honours Mawlana Hazar Imam with their Gold Medal, Mehnaz Thawer explores how the Imam has demonstrated that architecture can extend beyond the structural, the functional and the aesthetic. It can give shape to cultural values, traditions, aspirations, and be a bedrock for sustainable development.

Enclosed by panels of limestone trellis, the Grand Courtyard of the Ismaili Jamatkhana and Centre, Kinshasa is a delight for the senses.

The Ismaili Jamatkhana and Centre, Kinshasa is a contemporary complex that blends timeless traditional design principles. It provides an environment for spiritual contemplation and reflection, and represents a new milestone in the long history of the Congolese Jamat, which continues to build on its pioneering spirit in a country of growing opportunity.

A guide explains the exhibition to guests at the Enlightened Encounters outreach event held at Chicago Headquarters Jamatkhana in Glenview, IL.

Scheduled to open in Toronto in the summer of 2014, the Aga Khan Museum has embarked on a tour to introduce itself in major American centres. As the first museum in North America dedicated to the Islamic Arts, it is using the opportunity to demonstrate that despite being separated by centuries of history, ancient works and the knowledge they carry within them, remain relevant to us today.

Members of the first Aga Khan Award for Architecture steering committee deliberating in Boston, in 1979.

In 1970s, a group of intellectuals came together at Aiglemont, France, to bend their minds towards a pressing problem: how to arrest the decline of architectural traditions across the Muslim world and help these societies rediscover the confidence to shape their built environments in the image of their own values and identities? Journalist Ayesha Daya describes how the questions they raised, their deliberations and debates gave way to the Aga Khan Award for Architecture.

The staggered block arrangement of the 66-storey Met Tower in Bangkok — shortlisted for the 2013 Award — provides plenty of light and cross-ventilation, so that  apartments require no air conditioning.

In the 36 years since the Aga Khan Award for Architecture was established, it has recognised a broad array of projects, from office towers to affordable housing developments; the restoration of heritage to radical innovations in the built environment. But what the winning projects have in common is that each is an example of how architecture can make society a better place to live, says journalist Ayesha Daya.

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