Recipient of the Aga Khan Award for Architecture in 1995.
Since its founding 2,000 years ago, Sana'a has been a major trading centre for south-eastern Arabia. Once a seat of government for the early Islamic caliphs, it is today the capital city of Yemen. Typical houses in Sana'a rise to as many as nine stories. The lower levels are usually built of stone, and the upper ones of lighter brick. The windows are outlined in white gypsum and have fan lights of alabaster or coloured glass held in gypsum tracery. Because the urban expansion of the 1970's and 1980's had begun to threaten and eventually destroy the old city, in 1984 the Republic of Yemen created the General Organisation for the Preservation of Old Sana'a. By 1987, it extended its responsibilities to all of Yemen and became the General Organisation for the Preservation of the Historic Cities of Yemen (GOPHCY). UNESCO and UNDP assisted the preservation planning process, while technical assistance and funding were provided by the Yemeni government and by Germany, Italy, the Netherlands, North Korea, Norway, Switzerland, and the U.S.A. About 50 percent of the city's streets and alleys have been paved with patterned bands of black basalt and white limestone, and the repair continues. Old water supply and drainage systems were upgraded, and craftsmen are restoring the city's mud walls. Numerous buildings dating from the 14th, 17th, and 19th centuries have been restored. The jury notes that "this project has saved old Sana'a."
Davidson, Cynthia and Ismail Serageldin, editors. Architecture Beyond Architecture. London: Academy Editions, 1995.
More that 1,600 projects have been examined and debated since the Aga Khan Award for Architecture was founded in 1977 with the intention of exploring the direction of architectural projects in Muslim societies and encouraging a high standard of design. In this sixth cycle of the Award, twelve projects are premiated. Each is vastly different from the others, and together they illustrate not only the diverse programs architecture is being asked to address in Third World countries today, but also the degree to which modernization, or what some may term 'westernization', is influencing the built environment of rapidly industrializing societies. Together these projects raise many questions: what is the role of the West in Muslim societies, or, for that matter, in developing society? What is the role of architecture in Muslim societies? What constitutes a definition of architecture in developing countries? Architecture beyond Architecture is the sixth in a series of books under the general title Building in the Islamic World Today.