Page N1.2 . 09 January 2002                     
ArchitectureWeek - News Department
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Aga Khan Award for Architecture


Built to preserve the archaeological and cultural record of a civilization from prehistoric times to the present, the Nubian Museum, designed by Mahmoud El-Hakim and funded by the Egyptian government, is an important center for African and Middle Eastern archaeology and museology, as well as a vital community museum.

The 108,0000-square foot (10,000-square-meter) museum faces the Nile in the manner of traditional Nubian houses. An open triangle motif on the main facade derives from traditional Nubian architecture and is one of a number of such elements subtly incorporated into the design.

Entering at ground level, visitors are led down to the main exhibition area, where they find the museum's centerpiece: a statue of Ramses II (1304-1237 B.C.), builder of the great temple at Abu Simbel. The scheme draws visitors through the museum building and out to an exterior exhibition area, designed to represent the Nile Valley.

This area includes a cave housing prehistoric drawings of animals, and also features a traditional Nubian house, an outdoor theater for five hundred people, two shrines, a musalla(place of prayer), and several graves, said to be Fatimid, Roman, and Coptic in origin. A canal symbolizes the River Nile, which is surrounded by local flora and fauna.

The institution is popular among the residents of Aswan, who are proud of their museum and feel that it reflects their way of life. The museum plays an important role in informing both Egyptian and international visitors about Nubian culture, preserving the record of an ancient civilization while providing a focal point for today's community.

SOS Children's Village

On the outskirts of Aqaba, Jordan's outlet to the Red Sea, a sensitive new project has fused a modern design vocabulary with a renewal of the local building vernacular to create a haven for orphaned children.

Designed by Jafar Tukan and Partners and completed in 1991, the Aqaba SOS complex creates conditions for orphaned children that are as close as possible to those of normal family life. Eight family houses and auxiliary buildings are all planned around a "village square" and connected via pedestrian paths, gardens, and alleyways.

To mitigate hot summer temperatures, the complex is arranged in clusters of buildings, surrounded by breezy outdoor spaces with lush vegetation and shade trees. Vaulted archways lead to shaded courts, while gardens surround the buildings on all sides.

The shared facilities are located on the southern border of the site, close to the main road, and the village is integrated with the surrounding community through points of public and social interaction, a supermarket and pharmacy that generate a small income for the village, and a sports center and kindergarten.

The Aga Khan jury citation praises the village's "thoughtful and integrated" architecture as a "sober, modern interpretation of vernacular traditions" that sets a cultural and aesthetic precedent for its community.

Barefoot Architects

The Barefoot College, founded in 1972 in a rural community in Rajasthan, India, is a social development program based on respecting and revitalizing the traditional skill and knowledge base of village communities. Over the years, the college has worked with local teachers, health-care providers, solar engineers, and hand-pump mechanics in a comprehensive development plan, implemented with and for the rural poor.

As a result of these programs, the Barefoot Architects local people with no formal training have been able to build a college campus that combines advanced techniques and traditional building materials, using sustainable technologies such as rainwater harvesting and solar power.

The architects have been able to apply and spread their skills in the surrounding community. They have installed rainwater harvesting systems in local schools, built 200 new homes, and helped to lift the surrounding population out of the cycle of poverty and helplessness.

In awarding The Barefoot Architects an Aga Khan Award, the jury commended their "integration of social, ecological, cultural, and educational elements in such a way as to aid rural development while promoting the architectural traditions of the region."

New Life for Old Structures

Since 1988, the Iranian Ministry of Housing and Urban Development has run a program aimed at saving Iran's historic city centers from the twin threats of popular neglect and unregulated development. Under the program, historic buildings are acquired, restored, and adapted for reuse, and sold or rented to new owners or tenants.   >>>



ArchWeek Image

Part of the Nubian Museum in Egypt, a winner of the Aga Khan Award for Architecture, a traditional house represents the Nile Valley.
Photo: Barry Iverson

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The SOS Children's Village, Jordan, fuses a modern design vocabulary with a renewal of the local building vernacular to create a haven for orphaned children.
Photo: Seiichi Furuya

ArchWeek Image

The SOS Children's Village is arranged in clusters of buildings surrounded by gardens on all sides.
Photo: Seiichi Furuya

ArchWeek Image

Thoughtfully scaled and arranged and environmentally friendly, the SOS Children's Village provides a place where children can feel at home.
Photo: Seiichi Furuya

ArchWeek Image

The Barefoot Architects have designed and built several significant projects using sustainable, innovative, and traditional technologies.
Photo: Rajesh Vora

ArchWeek Image

As is the custom in Indian vernacular architecture, Barefoot College courtyards are highly decorated at ground level.
Photo: Rajesh Vora

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The Barefoot Architects build geodesic domes using scrap metal instead of scarce trees for emergency structures including relief housing.
Photo: Rajesh Vora

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Influential Sri Lankan architect Geoffrey Bawa won a special Chairman's Award for lifetime achievement.
Photo: Christian Richters


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