19 September 2013

MArchD Lecturers win Aga Khan Award for Architecture

MArchD Lecturers win Aga Khan Award for Architecture

Nasser Golzari and Yara Sharif, MArchD Lecturers in the School of Architecture at Oxford Brookes University, have won the 2013 Aga Khan Award for Architecture. The winning project, titled ‘Revitalisation of Birzeit Historic Centre’, is part of an on-going rehabilitation master plan that aims to protect the cultural heritage of Palestine, West Asia.

Nasser and Yara’s project was awarded the Aga Khan Award for Architecture for the 2011 – 2013 cycles. The award is given every three years to projects that set new standards of excellence in architecture, historic preservation, planning practices and landscape architecture. The award pays particular attention to projects that use local resources and appropriate technology in innovative ways, so the Palestine regeneration project fits the bill perfectly.

The ‘Revitalisation of Birzeit Historic Centre’ award-winning project is the first in a series of 50 Palestine regeneration projects lead by the Centre of Architectural Conservation in Ramallah (RIWAQ). RIWAQ is a non-governmental organisation in Palestine, with whom Nasser and Yara are consultants on this project. The project has already transformed the decaying town of Birzeit, which saw a rapid decline in the area after its university moved to Ramallah. The MArchD-led project has rehabilitated both historic and public spaces into community hubs through significant community involvement from local NGOs, the private sector and local owners. Lost Palestinian features have also been restored to their former appearance using affordable techniques and local materials; and where no historical examples were available, new designs were made in a bold, innovative spirit.

On receiving the award, Nasser said he was “very pleased to see that the hard work that has been put into Birzeit by RIWAQ and the whole team has been given the acknowledgement it deserves. The work of protection of the cultural heritage of Palestine will continue; Birzeit was the first of the 50 villages so there are 49 more on the way.”

Earlier this year, MArchD students at Oxford Brookes University had the exciting opportunity to be involved with the Palestine regeneration project and visited the village of Beit Iksa to work alongside local communities. Students were able to design, make and build devices and spaces within the village and offer new design proposals to bring life back to the crumbling community. Our students input helped to develop the villages first ‘green’ roof and water filtration using 100% locally recycled materials.

More information on the winning project can be found at the Aga Khan Award for Architecture website.