The Aga Khan Award as a pioneering influence
Apart from the criteria that neither the architect’s name nor the object itself lay at the focus of attention, it was the buildings’ locations – outside Europe and North America, as the title Afritecture suggests – that formed the common thread in what was shown. This was not the so-called First World being presented once again as a model for emerging markets and the “other” worlds. Instead, an example was being set by projects from precisely these “non-first world” countries. And while China aims to beat the Old (and for a long time “First”) World at its own game, so to speak, Africa – as addressed in the exhibition – stands for possible alternatives.
A key factor in the perception of this architecture, which does not primarily follow in the footsteps of the modernism forged in Europe and with it the International Style of the post-war years, under North American influence in turn, is the Aga Khan Award. This has been presented every three years since 1980, with the twelfth occasion in 2013. The members of the jury for the Aga Khan Award mostly grant recognition to buildings that are familiar to us (some of which could easily belong in our own countries). In terms of form, these works incorporate both regional building traditions – the Mapungubwe Centre by Peter Rich, or Maria Grazia Cutuli primary school by architects from Italy – and, to some extent, abstract international architecture, such as the Pediatric Center by Tamassociati, or the rebuilding of a refugee camp by UNRWA and NBRC