The Arab Architecture Awards is an international architecture prize that highlights the best projects designed and executed by Arab architects around the world, over the past 8 years.
PHOTO: The Sheikh Nahyan Center by Fouad Samara, Balamand, Lebanon
Initiated jointly by the Organisation of Arab Architects and the Order of Engineers & Architects in Lebanon in 2018, the first edition was held in Beirut at the Seaside Exhibition Center from 25-27 October 2018. 35 projects in 9 different categories were presented to a jury of Arab and International architects and academics.
At the end of the 3-day event, the Jury for the Arab Architects Awards announced the winners in all categories, and submitted its report to the President of the Lebanese Federation of Engineers, and the Organization of Arab Architects, Mr. Jad Tabet.
This event provided a platform for the exchange of ideas and for architecture projects from the Schools of Architecture in this edition's host country, Lebanon, as well as hosting a number of exhibitions from actors in the field of architecture, from architectural products, to construction industry, to new technologies and real estate development. Future biennial editions will be held in a different Arab country.
35 Shortlisted architectural projects
11 Grand jury members.
60 Business partners working with building industries, exhibiting in booths at the Trade Expo.
10,000 expected visitors from professional and academic sectors.
25 Media establishments (T.V, Radio, Newspaper and Web) covering the event
16 Participating faculties of Architecture in Lebanon, through a special student projects Expo.
The jury selected the following winners in the following categories:
Hashim Sarkis: Courtyard Houses, Amchit, Lebanon
The jury appreciated the overall composition of this complex of houses, built for an extended family, in a way that respected the topography, giving each house its particular viewpoint to the sea, and its particular ‘space’. Despite their simple appearance, the individual houses display a high degree of sophistication, and propose an innovative reinterpretation of the domestic house typology.
Ahmed Taha & Hattan Basrawi: 577 Residence, Jeddah, KSA
The jury selected the project of Taha & Basrawi for its sensitive articulation of a complex architectural program consisting of 10 apartment units spread over 6 floors, in a housing complex that attempts to mediate with its context, through the use of appropriate materials and detailing, such as the insertion of small courts that successfully subdivide the different units of this complex. The project successfully inserts itself in its context, proposing a typology that can serve as a model for future development.
Youssef and Elias Anastas: Toulkarem Courthouse, Palestine
The Toulkarem Courthouse is a significant public building that reasserts the notion of a ‘civic architecture’ in a monumental yet discreet way. The subdivision of the project into two separate yet complementary blocks was a judicious strategy, creating a dialectical relationship between the two blocks. The jury appreciated the attempt by the architects to create a civic structure that significantly expresses its function, while adapting to its context through the use of local materials and appropriate detailing.
Cultural and Educational
Tarik Zoubdi and Mounir Benchekroun: Wall of Knowledge, Morocco
The jury noted the dedication of the architects to create an exemplary project for a public school, notwithstanding the low budget usually allocated for such projects. The articulation of the program into 3 separate blocks surrounding the public space, yet coming together as one complex in the overall scheme, was very successful. The attention to details and to the quality of spaces, without losing sight of the general concept, was very noteworthy.
Rami Daher: Old Electricity Hangar, Jordan
The jury appreciated this project for its adaptive re-use of a relic from the industrial period, making a statement towards the preservation of the modern heritage of the city of Amman, and casting light on the important issue of preserving contemporary heritage, and not only old historical buildings. In the process, the architect turned this derelict building into a useful public function, adding to it a complementary pavilion, and transforming it into an active venue for social events and functions within the city.
Touristic and Recreational
Ammar Khammash: Dana Guest House, Jordan
Set within a very challenging site, the architect inserted this guest house for visitors and tourists in a sensible way, providing an alternative vision of an architecture that withdraws into the background, allowing ‘nature’ in its raw condition to be the main subject. The jury appreciated the sensitivity with which the architect worked in this particular condition, and his careful efforts to propose a structure that would have a minimal ‘impact’ in a situation that does not call for a major architectural statement.
Commercial and Workspaces
Saja Nashashibi: Capital Bank Amman, Jordan
This project for a bank in a suburb of Amman successfully resolved the challenges of answering the functional requirements of a modern commercial space, while responding well to its context, and in the process setting the tone for an architecture that reflects on issues of identity, context, and modernity in a significant way. The jury also appreciated the creative and sensitive articulation of internal spaces, the high level of detailing and the mastery of the construction process.
Jaafar Toukan & Shadi Abdulsalam: Mahmoud Darwish Memorial, Palestine
The project for the Mahmoud Darwish Memorial and Park, irrespective of the great symbolic value that would be naturally associated with a project of this nature, represents a masterful assembly of discreet elements that were combined in a composition that reinterprets the contemporary memorial, and by default the concept of ‘monumentality’, while also fulfilling the programmatic requirements consisting of museum spaces and additional facilities. The jury was unanimous in its appreciation of this interpretation of monumentality, for a space that became, due to its popularity, a public space that serves a variety of social events.
Wael al Awar: Al Waraqa Mosque, Dubai
This project for a religious function was exemplary in this category, which always poses the problematic of resolving the desired balance between originality and innovation versus respecting tradition. The Waraqa Mosque successfully assimilated the functional and ritual requirements for a local mosque, while reinterpreting this historic type in a contemporary way that befits its context. The simplicity of the form betrayed a very careful and sophisticated articulation of spaces within, and advanced the art of creating a meaningful spiritual space.
Winner of all categories
Fouad Samara: Sheikh Nahyan Center, Balamand, Lebanon
The ‘Winner of all categories’ was selected through a process of nomination by the jury, for an innovative building that somehow expresses the values that a contemporary Arab architecture would aspire to. The project by Fouad Samara for the University of Balamand received the largest number of votes in this category, for its bold architectural statement, its masterful resolution of a complex set of requirements, while engaging its natural context in a stimulating relationship, offering in the process several opportunities for meaningful interactions between internal and external spaces. The jury also appreciated the comprehensive presentation of the project, and its attention to details.
Dr. Elie Haddad (Lebanese), Chair of the Jury, Representative of the Federation of Arab Engineers
Dr. Soheir Hawas (Egyptian)
Husni Abu Gheida (Jordan)
Hassan Radoine (Morocco)
Hala Warde (Lebanon), architect
Dr. Bahjat Rashad Shahin (Iraq)
Dr. Mashary el Naim (Saudi Arabia)
Suad El Amiry (Palestine)
Dr. Oqba Fakoush (Syria)
Fabian Llisterri (Spain), architect, UIA Representative
Christos Christodolou (Egypt), UMAR Representative