Aga Khan award winners redefine excellence in architecture

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Bahrain: Revitalization of Muharraq
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Bangladesh: Arcadia Education Project
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UAE: Wasit Wetland Centre
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Senegal: Alioune Diop University Teaching and Research Unit
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Russian Federation: Public Spaces Development Program
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Updated 04 September 2019

Aga Khan award winners redefine excellence in architecture

  • Projects focus on 'communities in which Muslims have a significant presence'
  • Each winning project will be awarded a share of a $1 million prize money

ABU DHABI: A floating bamboo school-cum-hostel for single women, a wasteland transformed into a wetland and a culture museum built in the heart of one of the world’s longest-running conflicts are among the winners of a triennial award for architecture serving Muslims.
The Aga Khan Award for Architecture was established in 1977 by Aga Khan, the Muslim spiritual leader, to celebrate projects that “successfully address the needs and aspirations of communities in which Muslims have a significant presence.”
The six frontrunners of the 2019 edition were announced this week with projects from two Gulf Cooperation Council countries — the UAE and Bahrain — in addition to Bangladesh, Palestine, Senegal and Russia being handpicked as winners. They were selected from a shortlist of 20 buildings from 16 countries.
It is the first time that the UAE and Bahrain have won recognition. Russia has also been recognized for the first time for a project which, to date, has improved 328 public spaces in the Republic of Tatarstan.
The 2019 jury said it “sought to select projects that question the conventional practice of the profession and set in place inspirational pathways through which architects can take on societal problems.”

Revitalization of Muharraq

The project, which highlights the World Heritage Site’s pearling history, was first initiated as a series of restoration projects. The project evolved into a comprehensive programme that aimed to rebalance the city’s demographic makeup by creating public spaces, providing community and cultural venues and improving the environment. The judges said the restoration of existing buildings and the introduction of contemporary sites provided a vessel for curated cultural activities, with the “Pearl Route” — which guides visitors through the area’s heritage — noted as a particular highlight.
The judges noted that the Revitalisation of Muharraq “responds creatively to the challenges of neglected urban cultural heritage and social life. Drawing on Bahrain’s heritage of a pearl economy, it has reawakened a local sense of pride while infusing new cultural life in a deteriorated urban area.”

Arcadia Education Project

Located in South Kanarchor, the Arcadia Education Project — a modular structure incorporating space for a preschool, a hostel, a nursery and a vocational training centre — takes a novel approach to a riverine site that is flooded for up to 5 months every year. Rather than disrupting the ecosystem to create a mound for building, the architect devised the solution of an amphibious structure that could sit on the ground or float on the water, depending on seasonal conditions.
“At a time of rising sea levels, this modest bamboo school illustrates how to build an affordable and viable solution with locally available materials,” the judges noted. “The approach to building the three-classroom preschool was to design a structure that rises with the river’s water level and adapts to the surroundings — without altering the natural condition of the site and allowing for uninterrupted, year-long use of the building.
“The paradigm of the architect using his professional knowledge — yet thinking outside the box by adapting traditional methods — is remarkable, especially as the construction is modest and direct, without fetishizing craft.”

Palestinian Museum

The zigzagging Palestinian Museum in Birzeit — inspired by the surrounding agricultural terraces — is one of the four new structures to have won a prize this year. The project crowns a terraced hill overlooking the Mediterranean Sea and is the recipient of the LEED Gold certification because of its sustainable construction.
The judges said the museum stands as “the powerful embodiment of a cultural identity under duress at the intersection of land and architecture, nature and people. The building’s very existence — built despite a condition of occupation and siege — can be understood as nothing less than an act of hope for current and future generations.”

Russian Federation
Public Spaces Development Programme

The Public Spaces Development Programme in Kazan is the revival of over 300 public spaces in Tatarstan and seeks to counter the trend toward private ownership by refocusing priorities on quality public spaces.
The judges said the programme was “impressive in its ambition to improve the quality of public space throughout Tatarstan. It is important to understand the role of the public in such projects. They reinforce the sense of community, the identity of the villages, towns and cities and the role it plays in the development of civil society.”
They added: “It is evident that the long-term success and sustainability of the project lies not only in its larger vision and political leadership, but also in the realization process, which has emphasised engagement and dialogue, the involvement and encouragement of young architects and designers and the participation of the community.”

Alioune Diop University Teaching and Research Unit

IDOM’s prize-winning Alioune Diop University Teaching and Research Unit is a lecture building in Bambey, Senegal, where a scarcity of resources led to the use of bioclimatic strategies, includes a large double-roof canopy and latticework that avoids solar radiation but allows air to flow through it. By employing familiar construction techniques and following sustainability principles, it succeeded in keeping costs and maintenance demands to a minimum, while still making a bold architectural statement.
“As buildings have a direct impact on climate change and the environment, theunit represents a commendable example of how fundamental principles of sustainability and energy efficiency are translated into a well-integrated and elegant design that also has a low impact on its surroundings,” the judges said.

Wasit Wetland Centre

The Wasit Wetland Centre — part of a larger project to rehabilitate an ancient chain of wetlands along the UAE’s coast — is a design that saw the transformation of an almost 20-acre rubbish dump in the emirate of Sharjah into a wetland that is now a nature reserve for 350 bird species.
The judges said the centre “stands out as a remarkable, indeed unique, collaborative project combining architectural excellence with a deep commitment to ecological imperatives,” while also achieving “highly commendable educational and recreational purposes. The project sets a powerful precedent that encourages low-impact and environmentally conscious development in a region known for its propensity to go in the opposite direction.”


AS IT HAPPENED: Trump, Biden in heated and chaotic presidential debate

Updated 41 min 54 sec ago

AS IT HAPPENED: Trump, Biden in heated and chaotic presidential debate

  • Trump and Biden arrived in Cleveland hoping debate would energize their bases of support
  • Exchanges were marked by angry interruptions and bitter accusations

CLEVELAND: Marked by angry interruptions and bitter accusations, the first debate between President Donald Trump and Democratic challenger Joe Biden erupted in contentious exchanges Tuesday night over the coronavirus pandemic, city violence, job losses and how the Supreme Court will shape the future of the nation’s health care.
In what was the most chaotic presidential debate in recent years, somehow fitting for what has been an extraordinarily ugly campaign, the two men frequently talked over each other with Trump interrupting, nearly shouting, so often that Biden eventually snapped at him, “Will you shut up, man?”
“The fact is that everything he’s said so far is simply a lie,” Biden said. “I’m not here to call out his lies. Everybody knows he’s a liar.”
Trump and Biden arrived in Cleveland hoping the debate would energize their bases of support, even as they competed for the slim slice of undecided voters who could decide the election. It has been generations since two men asked to lead a nation facing such tumult, with Americans both fearful and impatient about the coronavirus pandemic that has killed more than 200,000 of their fellow citizens and cost millions of jobs.
Over and over, Trump tried to control the conversation, interrupting Biden and repeatedly talking over the moderator, Chris Wallace of Fox News. The president tried to deflect tough lines of questioning — whether on his taxes or the pandemic — to deliver broadsides against Biden.
The president drew a lecture from Wallace, who pleaded with both men to stop interrupting. Biden tried to push back against Trump, sometimes looking right at the camera to directly address viewers rather than the president and snapping, “It’s hard to get a word in with this clown.”
But despite his efforts to dominate the discussion, Trump was frequently put on the defensive and tried to sidestep when he was asked if he was willing to condemn white supremacists and paramilitary groups.
“What do you want to call them? Give me a name. Give me a name,” Trump said, before Wallace mentioned the far right, violent group known as the Proud Boys. Trump then pointedly did not condemn the group, instead saying, “Proud Boys, stand back, stand by, but I’ll tell you what, somebody’s got to do something about Antifa and the left because this is not right-wing problem. This is a left wing problem."
The vitriol exploded into the open when Biden attacked Trump's handling of the pandemic, saying that the president “waited and waited" to act when the virus reached America's shores and “still doesn’t have a plan.” Biden told Trump to “get out of your bunker and get out of the sand trap” and go in his golf cart to the Oval Office to come up with a bipartisan plan to save people.
Trump snarled a response, declaring that “I'll tell you Joe, you could never have done the job that we did. You don’t have it in your blood."
“I know how to do the job,” was the solemn response from Biden, who served eight years as Barack Obama's vice president.
The pandemic’s effects were in plain sight, with the candidates’ lecterns spaced far apart, all of the guests in the small crowd tested and the traditional opening handshake scrapped. The men did not shake hands and, while neither candidate wore a mask to take the stage, their families did sport face coverings.
Trump struggled to define his ideas for replacing the Affordable Care Act on health care in the debate’s early moments and defended his nomination of Amy Coney Barrett, declaring that “I was not elected for three years, I’m elected for four years.”
“We won the election. Elections have consequences. We have the Senate. We have the White House and we have a phenomenal nominee, respected by all.”
Trump criticized Biden over the former vice president's refusal to comment on whether he would try to expand the Supreme Court in retaliation if Barrett is confirmed to replace the late Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg.
The president also refused anew to embrace the science of climate change.
As the conversation moved to race, Biden accused Trump of walking away from the American promise of equity for all and making a race-based appeal.
“This is a president who has used everything as a dog whistle to try to generate racist hatred, racist division,” Biden said.
Recent months have seen major protests after the deaths of Black people at the hands of police. And Biden said there is systemic racist injustice in this country and while the vast majority of police officers are “decent, honorable men and women” there are “bad apples” and people have to be held accountable.
Trump in turn claimed that Biden’s work on a federal crime bill treated the African American population “about as bad as anybody in this country.” The president pivoted to his hardline focus on those protesting racial injustice and accused Biden of being afraid to use the words “law and order,” out of fear of alienating the left.
“Violence is never appropriate,” Biden said. “Peaceful protest is.”
With just 35 days until the election, and early voting already underway in some states, Biden stepped onto the stage holding leads in the polls — significant in national surveys, close in some battleground states — and looking to expand his support among suburban voters, women and seniors. Surveys show the president has lost significant ground among those groups since 2016, but Biden faces his own questions encouraged by Trump’s withering attacks.

Follow the debate as it happened below, all times GMT:

02:25 - As we near the end of the debate, fair elections and the integrity of the election comes up. Trump calls the expected widespread voting-by-mail a "fraud" and says we may not know the result of the election "for months."

Biden tells Americans they have the power to choose the direction the US will take for the next four years, and whether they want four more years of Trump's lies.

QUOTE: “Show up and vote. You will determine the outcome of this election. Vote, vote, vote,” Biden said.

02:15 - The next segment of the debate moves onto climate change, Trump outlines his supposed achievements in the sector during his term in office, but the big takeaway is Biden saying he would rejoin the Paris accord on climate - which Trump pulled the US out of - if he’s elected president.

Biden also admits that he would not support the Democratic plan known as the “Green New Deal” - which critics have said goes too far and is too expensive - and instead says he backs his own “Biden Deal.”

02:05 - 

QUOTE: In rebuttal, Trump tells Biden: “In 47 months, I’ve done more than you’ve done in 47 years.”

01:55 - Trump goes for a personal attack, aiming for Biden's son Hunter for business dealing in Ukraine. Biden steers conversation away back toward coronavirus pandemic and its ravaging of US families, debate should not focus on his family.

QUOTE: Facing interruption from Trump and told to offer up his word, Biden says: “It’s hard to get any word in with this clown -- excuse me, this person.”

01:45 - When quizzed on his approach to the shutdown of the American economy, Trump quickly blames what he calls the “China Plague” for forcing him into the shutdown of a self-proclaimed “greatest economy ever built”...

01:35 - Trump is asked to qualify why the American public should trust him on COVID-19 - Biden uses his segment to say that Trump could not be trusted, and that the public's trust should be placed in the scientists. Trump asserts that Biden would have "lost way more people" had he been in power.

QUOTESTrump to Biden: “You didn't think we should've closed our country (to China) because you thought it was terrible... We've done a great job. But I tell you, Joe, you could never have done the job we've done. You don't have it in your blood.”

01:25 - As Trump takes a question regarding his policy on healthcare, the segment descends into a shouting match between the two candidates - who throw insults at each other - but the thrust of Trump's argument is "Obama-care doesn't work, and is too expensive to run." Biden ends the segment by saying "Keep yapping, man..."

QUOTES: Biden, told by Trump that he has adopted former Democratic presidential rival Bernie Sanders “socialized medicine” proposals: “Everybody here knows he's a liar ... you picked the wrong guy on the wrong night at the wrong time.”

“Folks, do you have any idea what this clown's doing? I tell you what, he is not for anybody needing healthcare.” After Trump explains his health proposal, Biden says: “He has no plan for healthcare. ... The fact is this man has no idea what he's talking about.”

01:15 - Trump fields his first question and it regards his Supreme Court nomination - in an election year - of Amy Coney Barrett. Trump justifies the nomination - saying “elections have consequences,” and saying Barrett would be “as good as anybody that has served on that court. We won the election, and therefore we have the right to choose her.”

Biden responds by saying results of the upcoming election should determine who nominates the justice to fill the seat of Ruth Bader Ginsburg. “We should wait and see what the outcome of this election is,” Biden said.

01:05 - With both candidates on stage, we're under way...

01:00 - With the First Lady Melania Trump and the rest of the Trump family in place, moderator Chris Wallace of FOX News lays down the ground rules of the debate. Seconds away...

00:45 - We are minutes away as Trump and Biden are all set for the much anticipated first  presidential debate. Millions across America are on the edge of their seats...

*With AP