The Tamayouz Excellence Award recently announced the shortlisted finalists of the Mohamed Makiya Prize for Architecture 2019, also known as the “Middle Eastern Architectural Personality of the Year”. Established in 2014 as part of the Tamayouz Excellence Award program and named after prolific Iraqi architect Dr. Mohamed Makiya, the award is presented to individuals and organizations who have promoted, encouraged, advocated, or influenced the advancement of architecture in the Middle East between 2016-19.
Out of 40 submissions from 11 countries, nine were selected as finalists. Read on for more about them.
Ali Jaffar Al Lawati | Oman
Omani architect and broadcaster Ali Jaffar Al Lawati is the founder of several Arabic-language radio shows that air on Oman’s national radio channel and Soundcloud. Promoting regional architecture as well as good architectural practices to architects and the general public, Al Lawati strives to educate his listeners on the importance of sustainable architecture and contextually relevant architecture. Through his program, he also hopes to close the gap between architects, planners, decision-makers and the public by creating a channel of communication. His radio show (which also runs in English) also explores religious architecture in Oman and Islamic architecture in general, with special series running during Ramadan. In addition to his radio program, Al Lawati has published a number of written works, including a frequent column on sustainable architecture in the Saudi-run blog Layout, and articles that introduce architects for local cultural Omani magazines and newspapers. He also edited the magazine of the Oman Society of Engineers, and published four issues between 2017 and 2018.
Arabesque | UAE
Established by Dubai-based Egyptian architects Mouaz Abouzaid and Islam El Mashtooly, Arabesque is a joint venture that allows the two architects, outside of their official duties, to continue working towards the social and moral obligations of the profession of architecture. Working towards its best practice both in design and academia, Abouzaid and El Mashtooly hope to inspire younger generations to contribute positively to the built environment of the Middle East and North Africa. Arabesque has delivered a number of projects and concept designs since its establishment, including the curation of Egypt’s pavilion at Venice Biennale 2018. The pavilion reflects their mission and ethos: their work emphasizes humanity and the need for positive social impact through architecture.
Benaa Habitat | Egypt
The Egypt-based initiative seeks to create sustainable human settlements through environmentally responsible and low-cost architecture, serving as a catalyst for social development. In addition to designing and building projects following the principles and techniques of earth construction, Benaa Habitat also promotes and educates the public about sustainable architecture through workshops and training programs. Established in 2016, the organization has designed a number of buildings using different earth construction techniques including CEB, rammed earth, domes and vaults in different parts of the Middle East and Africa, from Egypt to Iraq to Tanzania.
Eric Broug | UK
An independent designer and researcher based in the UK, Eric Broug has dedicated the past 25 years to promoting Islamic geometric design. He asserts that while there was consistent design excellence for 1,400 years in Islamic geometric design, the past century and a half has seen a drastic decline in the quality of the art form. In response, Broug identified and codified the design principles of best practice with the goal of enabling architects to use this popular design form in a way that respects its past. His books, such as ‘Best Practice in Islamic Geometric Design: A Manual for Architects and Designers’, are among the most popular in the genre of Islamic art and design. They have enabled thousands of people around to world to draw and understand these patterns, and apply them in their projects.
Syrbanism | Austria
A voluntary, independent initiative led by Syrian architects Nour Harastani and Edwar Hanna, concerned with the reconstruction process in their home country, Syrbanism aims to engage Syrian people and involve them in the post-conflict recovery of their cities. Through campaigns that run informative videos about the country’s reconstruction laws and processes, as well as the rights of property owners, the organization equips the general public with knowledge and raises its awareness of relevant policies. Syrbanism has succeeded in a number of ways: it’s managed to influence the government to amend some of the clauses in Law No. 10, as well as Decree No 66, which involved issues of housing, land and property rights during and post conflict periods in Syria. Syrbanism’s campaigns have attracted media attention as well as key stakeholders. Its informative campaigns have also been used as valuable advocacy resources by the UN and EU agencies, shifting the topic of reconstruction from an expert-only area to one that involves ordinary citizens.
Taghlib Abdulhadi Al Waily | Iraq
Iraqi architect and urban planner Taghlib Abdulhadi Al Waily has long dedicated his practice to the revitalization of Baghdad’s Historical City Centre (BHCC). With a vision to create a celebrated space within this neglected area, Al Waily shared his experience and findings in his book ‘Baghdad 21st Century’. Rich in information, the publication has become a go-to resource for Iraqi architects and planners seeking up-to-date information and plans about the historically, culturally and architecturally significant area. In addition to his practice and authorship, Al Waily is involved in academia, public awareness, and governmental and non-governmental organizations. His academic roles include presentations on the revitalization of BHCC in Amman and London, as well as facilitating workshops in both cities, which has drawn the participation of other Iraqi architects and planners. In November 2018, Al Waily launched the initiative Ihea’a, which aims to spread awareness of the importance of BHCC.
International Journal of Islamic Architecture | USA
Since its establishment in 2012, the International Journal of Islamic Architecture has been a purveyor of innovative and progressive research on architecture in the Middle East. The journal, which features various sections including Design in Theory, Design in Practice, Architectural Spotlight and Reviews, encourages the exchange of ideas across borders and disciplines – a vital ethos in today’s society. Its content explores important topics, such as heritage, cultural destruction, curation, expertise and immigrant architecture, as well as provides a resource of current publications, exhibitions and conferences. This year, its position in the academic world was cemented by its acceptance into the highly competitive and rigorous Web of Science: Art and Humanities Citation Index.
Waleed Arafa | Egypt
Having established his own architecture practice in 2006, Dar Arafa Architecture, Waleed Arafa was recently the centre of media and academic attention following the completion of his landmark project Basuna Mosque in Egypt, which was also shortlisted for the Abdullatif Al Fozan Award for Mosque Architecture 2019. Having garnered wide academic interest, the mosque has quickly become a reference point for Islamic and Egyptian architecture – it has also sparked debate on architectural design, conservation of historical buildings and innovative structural design. The recipient of the Arab & African Youth Platform Award in 2019, Arafa has been invited to lecture at academic and cultural venues in major universities across Egypt, as well as in Algeria and Bahrain.
World Monuments Fund Britain | UK
The World Monuments Fund Britain has organized a stonemasonry training program in Mafraq, Jordan, which aims to increase the practice of stonemasonry among Jordanians and Syrian refugees so that they can participate in the post-conflict reconstruction of their home country. The project, which addresses the economic and cultural impact of conflict in the region, illustrates the importance of investing in traditional skills, and equipping individuals with the know-how to contribute to the construction of their environments.
The winning recipient will be celebrated during the annual Tamayouz Excellence Award Ceremony this December. You can learn more about the Mohamed Makiya Prize here.
All photos courtesy of the Mohamed Makiya Prize.
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