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Soniya Virani

February 8, 2017
Paper 1
Dr. Michelle Frankich

Aga Khan Award for Architecture (AKAA) is an architectural prize which was
established by Aga Khan IV in 1977. The award is presented in a cycle of three
years with the recent one happening in 2016 in United Arab Emirates (UAE.) This
nonprofit institution focuses on promoting diversity along with pluralism and
unity by bestowing the award to various architectural expertise around the world
which go unrecognized.
The goal, a set of objective which needs to be completed, of the AKAA is to
identify and encourage buildings with concepts that satisfy the need of the people
in which Muslims have a significant presence. The AKAA was first introduced in
year 1978 and since then the institution has adapted, to get acclimate to changes
or something introduced, to various changes over the years. When the awards
were first presented it consisted of a small committee but as the years passed on,
changes were adapted and implemented in a positive way which was useful for
the organization.
It started in 1977 when His Highness Aga Khan IV introduced the idea of
acknowledging the architectural geniuses around the world with a mindset of
promoting his idealism of unity among community. The AKAA thus became a
subsystem, set of smaller components which work together for a common
interest, of the Aga Khan Trust for Culture (AKTC.)
The AKTC is a part a suprasystem, an umbrella which consists of various systems
working toward a common interest, which is known as the Aga Khan
Development Network (AKDN), a non-profit organization also set up by the Aga
Khan himself. The AKDN consists of ten various systems, a collection of people or
institution who come together, which work in the field of education, health, rural
development and aims to improve the living conditions and provide equal
opportunities to the poor without regard to their religion, gender, or origin.

Initially, the AKTC was a closed system, a system which rejects or is unable to
accept information input from an external system, which denied any help or input
from its peers. It closed itself within a boundary, and refused to increase its
member committee further.
After the Aga Khan IV became the chairman of the steering committee, gradually
the attitude of the institution changed from being surrounded by boundary, to
set a limit on a subject, of limited resources to promoting internationally, the
importance of the ideal, the most desirable resource, like pluralism and unity,
that was initially the pushing force in the formation of the awards.
The AKAA consists of a process, the series of action that take place to change
input to output, through which the Master Jury which is appointed by the steering
committee, shortlists entries and further filter the eligible recipients of this
prestigious honor.
The Process
Step 1-The first step of the selection process begins with various participants
sending their architectural masterpieces with an overview of what makes them
stand apart.
Step 2- Once the Master Jury receives all the entries, information, a collection of
sensory perception or data, like its location, how does it help the community, of
each entry is collected.
Step 3- The collected data is then put forth in front of the steering committee and
together they give inputs, information entered in the beginning, like the role of
each structure, its value in the community, which help in filtering, to remove
unwanted or unnecessary materials, a list of shortlisted candidates. Both the
committees conduct thorough research and come with a list of deserving
Inputs like providing thematic directions, visibility of the cultural heritage can be
termed as signal inputs, a gesture that conveys information at the beginning of
the process. These suggestions help in further strengthening the selectivity,
carefully chosen material, of the project submissions. The selection is done based
on the ideal which is set up by the Aga Khan.
Step 4- Once the list of final contestant is made, further research and on-site
inspection takes place and the final list of the award recipients is then suggested
and put forth before the steering committee. The outward flowing of information
between the two committees is known as output. When the output of the Master
Jury is put before the final steering committee, together they come up with the
top 8 deserving projects for this honor.
The information shared between the two committees sets up an interface, a
boundary or system which provides transfer of information between systems,
which makes it easier to communicate and come to conclusions. The steering
committee is responsible for changing the input of the Master Jury to output. This
process is known as transformation, a change from one stage to another. The
input by the Jury is deliberated and transformed to output by the steering group
for further research.
Every project must go through rigorous research, facts, and feedback, getting
inputs or criticism from data, is taken from various resources surrounding the
structure. In order to be successful, the designers of these structures must satisfy
people among the committee with a clear explanation as to what is different
about their structure. This need is called the need satisfaction, the fulfillment of
something required.
The Problem
During the second cycle of the awards, when they were thoroughly new to the
pattern, a system dissonance, a gap within a system which falters the
functionality, started to emerge. Focusing more on the structure of the projects
rather than the values created a stir among the committee. The steering
committee stepped forward and tried to close this gap by providing necessary
inputs regarding the idealism that were supposed to be followed. This further
disrupted the process and eventually the Aga Khan IV had to step forward as the
chairman of the steering committee. A new Master Jury was set up with the
permission of the Aga Khan. During this time, the AKAA aimed to expand further
and steer into the values that were initially used to set the awards. It was then
decided that the AKAA would no longer be considered as a closed system. It
expanded its wings and dived into international recognition of exemplary
structures. It eventually came to become an open system, a system that accepts
new information from an external system, and started taking inputs from its peers
which strengthened the process of selectivity. This entropy, a randomness that
can take place within a system, in the AKAA paved way for the recognition it
received in the coming years.
The formal achievement, goal achieved successfully within the system, by the
committee was thus fulfilled which was to adhere to the ideal and values and not
only to the structure of the projects.
The Conclusion
AKAA is a formal architectural award which is awarded to those who built
structures which are correct not only in alignment and measurements but also
who contribute to the community in a positive way. It is not limited to only
certain countries. The AKAA focuses on finding architectural structures which are
a status quo, an existing example which can be followed, for further achievement
and which stand as an example for future architects who plan to step into this
world to make a difference.