© Aga Khan Trust for Culture / Cemal Emden (photographer)

© Aga Khan Trust for Culture / Cemal Emden (photographer)

© Aga Khan Trust for Culture / Cemal Emden (photographer)

The Palestinian Museum Wins the 2019 Aga Khan Award for Architecture

KAZAN, Russia – 29/08/2019 – The 2019 Aga Khan Award for Architecture Master Jury has announced its selection of the Palestinian Museum as winner of the prestigious annual prize. The Museum shares this honour and prize of one million dollars with five other projects that were also on the Award shortlist, which included 20 entries from 16 different countries. The prize will be presented in a ceremony in Kazan, Russia in the fall of 2019.

The Palestinian Museum was designed by Irish architecture firm Heneghan Peng, its gardens by Jordanian landscape architect Lara Zureikat. According to the Master Jury decision, the Museum was selected for its role as a setting that fosters creative endeavours and educational programmes as well as democratic dialogue and a culture of openness and tolerance. The Jury also cited the Museum’s distinct design which blends harmoniously with its natural, rural surroundings among the hillside terraces that characterise the Palestinian landscape. In addition to this harmony, the Museum’s sustainable construction has also earned it LEED Gold certification. Its gardens, sloped along the hillside, narrate the agricultural and botanical history of Palestine.

The Palestinian Museum is the first Palestinian architectural project to receive the Aga Khan Award for its design and implementation. In previous years, three other Palestinian restoration and rehabilitation projects had won the award, namely, the Rehabilitation of Hebron Old Town project (Hebron Rehabilitation Committee, 1998), the Restoration of Islamic Orphanage House in the Old City of Jerusalem (Taawon Welfare Association, 2004), and the Revitalisation of Birzeit Historic Centre (Riwaq – Centre for Architectural Conservation, 2013). The museum is thus the second Taawon Welfare Association project to receive this honour.

The Aga Khan Award is one of the oldest and most prestigious awards in the field of architecture. Various criteria are used to select winning projects, including the extent of their positive impact on poverty-stricken areas as well as their friendliness to the environment. Beyond distinct architecture, the Award also recognises the overall benefit offered by the project to the quality of life in its country.

‘We value the Aga Khan Development Network’s role in promoting growth and progress across the world,’ said Dr Adila Laïdi-Hanieh, Director General of the Palestinian Museum. ‘We consider this award to be a Palestinian achievement and are proud of having a modern, environmentally friendly museum in Palestine. The Palestinian Museum is unique among museums in the world in that it exists in an occupied state where more than half of our population, those living in Gaza and the diaspora, cannot reach us. The Museum itself is surrounded by Israeli settlements, and while the sea is visible to us, far away on the horizon, it is out of our reach. Amid all of this, thanks to its expansive spaces and oneness with its natural surroundings, the Museum serves as an open space for children and adults, where they are free to explore history, contemplate the present, and create the future.’

The 2019 Aga Khan Award for Architecture will be shared equally among the Palestinian Museum and five other projects: Revitalisation of Muharraq, Bahrain; Arcadia Education Project, South Kanarchor, Bangladesh; Public Spaces Development Programme, Republic of Tatarstan, Russian Federation; Alioune Diop University Teaching and Research Unit, Bambey, Senegal; Wasit Wetland Centre, Sharjah, UAE. The Museum competed on a shortlist comprised of 20 notable architectural projects.

About the Aga Khan Award for Architecture:

The Award was established in 1977 by spiritual leader and business man, the Aga Khan to encourage projects that successfully address the needs and ambitions of societies with a significant Muslim presence. The Award recognises notable architectural projects that incorporate modern design and contribute to social development, historic preservation, space restoration and rehabilitation in addition to landscape architecture and environmental rehabilitation. Since its establishment 42 years ago, 110 projects have been selected to receive the Award with 8,000 others being documented by AKDN.