Concrete in Alserkal Avenue shortlisted for 2019 Aga Khan Award for Architecture

Alserkal Avenue
May 20, 2019 12:39PM

This marks the first time a Dubai-based project has been shortlisted for the prestigious award

Dubai, UAE, 25 April 2019 Concrete, commissioned by Alserkal, has been shortlisted for the 2019 Aga Khan Award for Architecture, marking the first time a Dubai-based project has been shortlisted for the prestigious award. This is also the first time a project by Office for Metropolitan Architecture (OMA) has been shortlisted.

Concrete is the first building in the UAE to be completed by the Office for Metropolitan Architecture (OMA), founded by Pritzker Prize-winning architect Rem Koolhaas. Commissioned by Abdelmonem Bin Eisa Alserkal in 2015, Concrete was inaugurated in March 2017. To date, it has hosted five museum-grade, non-profit exhibitions in collaboration with world-renowned institutions including Victoria and Albert Museum, Hayward Gallery, the Atassi Foundation for Arts & Culture, UAE Unlimited, and the Samdani Art Foundation, and a number of cultural experiences.

The shortlist was announced today in Kazan, Russia, at an exhibition on the Aga Khan Award for Architecture that was inaugurated by His Excellency Rustam Minnikhanov, President of the Republic of Tatarstan. Recipients of the Aga Khan Award for Architecture will be announced in Fall 2019. Winning works will receive a $1 million prize.

Abdelmonem Bin Eisa Alserkal, Founder of Alserkal, said: “I am proud that the first Dubai- based project to be shortlisted for the Aga Khan Award for Architecture is one that was commissioned to foster dialogue around the notion of preservation in the context of modern architecture.”

Iyad Alsaka, Partner at OMA, said: “We are deeply honoured that our design for Concrete, our first realised project in Dubai, has been shortlisted for the Aga Khan Award for Architecture. From the start, the idea for Concrete was to create a space for international and local exchange. Our initiative to repurpose an industrial structure makes it a precedent in the architectural landscape of Dubai. It is a very important project for our firm and for the region.”

At the crossroads of modular design and modern architecture, Concrete is nestled in the heart of Alserkal Avenue in Dubai. A collection of warehouses that have been conserved and re-imagined by OMA, it is an adaptable venue whose ability to metamorphose brings creative visions to life, making it the home for art, design, fashion, and performing arts experiences. Concrete, which is conceptualised and programmed by Alserkal, draws inspiration from the contemporary artistic practices that surround it.

Concrete is one of three UAE projects to be shortlisted for the 2019 Aga Khan Award for architecture. They include Al Mureijah Art Spaces and the Wasit Wetland Centre, both located in Sharjah. Concrete is the first Dubai project to ever be shortlisted for the Aga Khan Award for Architecture, which is given every three years to projects that set new standards of excellence in architecture, planning practices, historic preservation, and landscape architecture. Through its efforts, 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 a significant presence.

In total, 20 projects have been shortlisted for the Aga Khan Award for Architecture. They are:

Bahrain Revitalization of Muharraq, offers testimony on the pearl trade in the Arabian Peninsula over the centuries, especially when Bahrain thrived during the 19th century.

Bangladesh Arcadia Education Project, in South Kanarchor, a modular amphibious structure – incorporating space for a preschool, a hostel, a nursery and a vocational training centre – which is tied down on a riverine site that is often flooded for five months every year. Amber Denim Loom Shed, in Gazipur, a new design that combines traditional Bangladeshi residential architecture and contemporary elements in a large open space that accommodates machines, a buyers’ lounge, a dining space, a prayer area and washrooms.

China Courtyard House Plugin, in Beijing, a prefabricated modular system first developed as a prototype for installation within courtyard houses in the traditionally Muslim district of Dashilar, which is home to communities who do not have the means to renovate.

Djibouti Tadjourah SOS Children's Village, a design based on a traditional medina and a layout of narrow streets that maximises shade and ventilation while providing shelter for the most vulnerable in society.

Ethiopia Warka Water, a prototype first implemented in Dorza, consists of an elegant triangular frame made out of local bamboo that encloses a thin polyester mesh – which captures droplets from high humidity in the air.

Iran Enghelab Street Rehabilitation, in Tehran, encompasses both the rehabilitation of the façades of 114 existing buildings and the creation of public cultural space between the national theatre and opera house.

Indonesia Taman Bima Microlibrary, in Bandung, aims to help combat Indonesia’s low literacy rates by adding a microlibrary above a pre-existing stage used for community events. AM Residence, in Jakarta, a design inspired by Indonesian vernacular stilt houses that favour natural ventilation; walls are minimised and windows kept simple for a seamless interior-to-exterior relationship.

Lebanon Jarahieh School, in Al-Marj, which provides educational facilities for children from 300 Syrian refugee families, creates a hub for community activities and offers the settlement’s only secure shelter in the event of snowstorm or earthquake.

Oman Muttrah Fish Market, in Muscat, which highlights the region’s trade and fishing traditions while also catering to Oman’s growing tourism industry.

Palestine Palestinian Museum, in Birzeit, which crowns a terraced hill overlooking the Mediterranean and is the recipient of the LEED Gold certification because of its sustainable construction.

Qatar Msheireb Museums, in Doha, which incorporates four historic courtyard houses dating from the early 20th century that together comprise an element of the cultural development of downtown Doha.

Russian Federation Tatarstan Public Spaces Development Programme, a programme that, to date, has improved 328 public spaces all over Tatarstan in areas ranging from major cities to small villages.

Russian Federation Tatarstan Public Spaces Development Programme, a programme that, to date, has improved 328 public spaces all over Tatarstan in areas ranging from major cities to small villages.

SenegalAlioune Diop University Lecture Building in Bambey, where a scarcity of resources led to the use of bioclimatic strategies: a large double roof canopy and latticework that avoids direct solar radiation but allows air to flow through it. Turkey Beyazıt State Library Renovation, in Istanbul, the renovation of a 19th century library – housed within a 16th century building – that displays rare manuscripts and architectural heritage. Uganda Ashinaga Uganda Dormitory, in Nansana, a residential school that prepares outstanding students from sub-Saharan Africa for entry into higher education. United Arab Emirates

  • Concrete at Alserkal Avenue, in Dubai, the major element of a former industrial complex that has been transformed into a cultural hub.
  • Al Mureijah Art Spaces, in Sharjah, the renovation of five dilapidated buildings that offered the perfect urban and architectural setting for a contemporary art venue.
  • Wasit Wetland Centre, in Sharjah, a design that transforms a wasteland into a wetland and functions as a catalyst for biodiversity and environmental education.

The shortlisted projects were selected by a master jury, comprised of leading international architects, academics, and theorists: Anthony Kwamé Appiah, an Anglo-Ghanaian American philosopher; Meisa Batayneh, founder and principal architect of Maisam architects & engineers; Sir David Chipperfield, whose practice has built over 100 projects for both the private and public sectors; Elizabeth Diller, a founding partner of a design studio whose practice spans the fields of architecture multi-media performance and digital media; Edhem Eldem, a Professor of History at Boğaziçi University (Istanbul) and the Collège de France; Mona Fawaz, a Professor in Urban Studies and Planning at the Issam Fares Institute of Public Policy at the American University of Beirut; Kareem Ibrahim, an Egyptian architect and urban researcher who has worked extensively in Historic Cairo; Ali M. Malkawi, a professor at Harvard University’s Graduate School of Design and a founding director of the Harvard Center for Green Buildings and Cities; and Nondita Correa Mehrotra, an architect working in India and the United States and Director of the Charles Correa Foundation.

For more information, please see the biographies of Master Jury members. ( jury/196951)

The Steering Committee is chaired by His Highness the Aga Khan. The other members of the Steering Committee are: Sir David Adjaye, Principal Adjaye Associates, London, Mohammad al-Asad, Founding Director, Center for the Study of the Built Environment, Amman, Emre Arolat, Founder, EAA- Emre Arolat Architecture, New York-London-Istanbul, Francesco Bandarin, Special Advisor, UNESCO, Paris, Hanif Kara, Design Director - AKT II, London, and Professor at the Harvard University Graduate School of Design, Cambridge, Azim Nanji, Special Advisor, Aga Khan University, Nairobi, Nasser Rabbat, Aga Khan Professor, Massachusetts Institute of Technology, Cambridge, Brigitte Shim, Partner, Shim-Sutcliffe Architects, Toronto, and Marina Tabassum, Principal, Marina Tabassum Architects, Dhaka. Farrokh Derakhshani is the Director of the Award. For more information, please see the biographies of the Steering Committee (

Alserkal Avenue