An exhibition featuring the winning entries from the world-renowned Aga Khan Award for Architecture was opened for display at the University of Auckland on Wednesday, 12th September and was attended by Deputy Mayor Bill Cashmore, Associate Professor of the School of Architecture and Planning Julia Gatley, National List MP Kanwaljit Singh Bakshi, Young Engineer of the Year 2018 Jenny Chu and President of the Ismaili Council for Australia and New Zealand Karim Sumar along with many other esteemed guests. The exhibition was a momentous occasion reflecting the relationship between the Aga Khan Development Network and the University of Auckland and its shared values of culture, pluralism and the ethos of excellence.

Facilitated by the School of Architecture and Planning, and held in conjunction with the 2018 Festival of Architecture, this is the first time the international exhibition has travelled to New Zealand. Introducing the exhibition, Associate Professor Julia Gatley recalled the predominant focus on western architecture and its history that characterised her student days in the 1980s that “would be unimaginable and unacceptable in today’s multicultural and diverse society”.

Auckland’s Deputy Mayor Bill Cashmore, noting in brief opening remarks that “223 languages are now spoken here” underlined the inspiration to be drawn from the Award. “The world,” he said, “is interconnected, full of humanity and beauty, like we see on the walls tonight.”

Especially present for the opening night, Dr Hossein Rezai, a member of the independent Master Jury for the Award’s most recent cycle, cited the Award’s “value for meaningful and intelligent design, social equity and community engagement”. The Award, established in 1977, is conferred every three years and recognises projects that set new standards of excellence in architecture, planning practices, historic preservation and landscape architecture. With US$1,000,000 in prize money, the rigour of its nomination and selection process has made it, in the eyes of many of the architectural industry, one of the world's most influential prizes. The world’s most prominent architects, designers and educators including esteemed representatives from Australia and New Zealand have been a part of the highly qualified nine jury membership which rewards these meticulous works.

The Award seeks to identify and encourage building concepts that successfully address the needs and aspirations of societies across the world in which Muslims have significant presence. It emphasises architecture that not only provides for people’s physical, social and economic needs, but that also stimulates and responds to their cultural expectations similar to many other AKDN projects around the globe.

This pivotal event shall be on display for many of the students, delegates and aspiring architects to marvel and appreciate till the 30th of September at the University of Auckland, George Fraser Gallery.