Recipient of the Aga Khan Award for Architecture in 1998.
The Alhamra Arts Council in the 1970s retained architect Nayyar Ali Dada to design a 1,000 seat multi-purpose auditorium that was built and completed in 1979. The council was later placed under the auspices of a government agency, the Lahore Arts Council, which oversaw the three subsequent phases of the project: four octagonal structures for administrative offices and art exhibition galleries that opened in 1984; a 450-seat theatre attached to the auditorium completed in 1985; and a 250-seat lecture and recital hall finished in 1992. Throughout this 15-year process, architect Dada used various combinations of polygonal shapes that meet the acoustic requirements of the performing arts. These forms are also ingeniously placed on the site to semi-enclose courtyards and green spaces. Another basic idea to which he adhered was the use of handmade red brick with traditional local mortar as veneer for the cast-in-place concrete walls. Red brick is the main building material at the Lahore Fort and Badshahi Mosque, the two most important historic buildings in the city. It was also the material most widely used by the British, and recalls the red sandstone architecture of Mughal Lahore. The jury found the complex to be "a rare example of flexible spaces that has enabled several additions to be made over time, each of which has in turn enhanced, rather than detracted from, its overall architectural value. This is a very popular and successful public building, projecting its complexities in a simple and powerful manner."
Davidson, Cynthia C., editor. “Legacies for the Future: Contemporary Architecture in Islamic Societies”. London: Thames and Hudson, 1998.
In the rapidly changing tastes and styles of Western culture, the most highly acclaimed designs in contemporary architecture are often unconnected to the social and cultural contexts from which they spring. In contrast, in Islamic societies around the world, architecture often plays a far more responsible role, responding to the immediate needs of local and personal exigencies. As a result, some of the most humanist contemporary architecture is overlooked by the fashions of today's international design periodicals. The seven projects chosen, for this, the seventh cycle (1998) of the Aga Khan Award for Architecture, from hundreds by the jury are among the most fascinating and thoughtful work produced anywhere in the world. Each project is profiled in depth with lucid texts, extensive drawings and specially commissioned photographs. Critical essays consider the challenges and potential rewards confronting architects and planners working in exceptional conditions. Legacies for the Future is the seventh in a series of books under the general title Building in the Islamic World Today.