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Launch of d. Academy by YADP in partnership with Alserkal Avenue

These projects are laboratories for ideas that can positively shape the future in ways that are meaningful, beneficial, and impactful

Exhibition and presentation of the Aga Khan Historic Cities Programme

Dubai, November 7, 2017

The Young Architect and Design Program (YADP), a new education initiative under the mentorship of the Aga Khan Award for Architecture, will open a dedicated space for learning and cultural engagement called d. Academy, in partnership with Alserkal Avenue. The initiative will be located in Warehouse 44 in Alserkal Avenue.

‘’The objective of the Program is to positively influence and guide young minds towards the issues and challenges of the future built environment, particularly the issues of development and urbanization,” said Nazneen Shafi, Executive Director of Engage ME. “Alserkal Avenue was the ideal partner for us, to be located in an environment that supports culture in all its forms.” The Program aims to promote architecture and design in the UAE around the themes of learning, exchange and collaboration.

The d. Academy was inspired by words delivered by His Highness the Aga Khan, founder and Chairman of the Aga Khan Award for Architecture, on the occasion of the 40th anniversary of the Aga Khan Award for Architecture. Upon being awarded the President’s Medal, the highest honor by The Architectural League of New York, His Highness the Aga Khan remarked, ‘’in thinking about the way societies live in the developing world, in the industrialized world, I came to a very simple conclusion: what is the art form that has the most important impact on every society, in every part of the world? And the answer is quite simply, architecture.”

Vilma Jurkute, Director of Alserkal Avenue said: “In a rapidly evolving city like Dubai, ventures like  d. Academy are crucial to facilitating discourse around the value of architecture both historical and modern and helping to educate the next generation. We look forward to bringing this initiative to life in Alserkal Avenue.”

The focus of d. Academy, under the banner of YADP, is to help the exchange of ideas and a better understanding of architecture, planning practices, historic preservation and landscape architecture. With a year-long calendar of exhibitions, workshops, lecture series and seminars, the YADP will run under the stewardship of Engage ME, a Toronto- and Dubai-based education and culture entity.

Shiraz Allibhai, Deputy Director of The Aga Khan Trust For Culture and Nazneen Shafi Executive Director Engage ME and The Young Architect and Design Program take His Excellency Sheikh Nahyan bin Mabarak Al Nahyan, Minister of Tolerance, Her Excellency Noura Al Kaabi, Minister of Culture and Knowledge Development for the United Arab Emirates on a tour of the The Aga Khan Historic Cities Programme together with Abdelmonem Alserkal Founder of the Alserkal Avenue where the d.Academy by YADP is based. Accompanying them are Amiruddin Thanawalla, President of the Ismaili Muslim Community in the United Arab Emirates and Aziz Merchant, Vice President of the Ismaili Muslim Community in UAE.

The inaugural exhibition at d. Academy is The Aga Khan Historic Cities Programme (HCP), which, through its projects, seeks to be a catalyst to improve quality of life by activating culture as a springboard for economic and social development. These projects are laboratories for ideas that can positively shape the future in ways that are meaningful, beneficial, and impactful. At their core is a message of opportunity, of potential, of hope.

Shiraz Allibhai, Deputy Director of The Aga Khan Trust for Culture, added: ‘’A vibrant and competent civil society is the cornerstone of a healthy and prosperous nation. The Aga Khan Historic Cities Programme is, therefore, proud to collaborate with the Young Architect and Design Program to showcase how breathing new life into the legacy of past civilizations calls for creativity, imagination, tolerance, understanding, and wisdom well beyond the ordinary.’’

‘’We are happy to collaborate with Ismaili Centre and the Aga Khan Trust for Culture, which are the institutions of the Ismaili Imamat. The Ismaili Centre has played a vital role in the initiation and conceptualization of YADP, we look forward to their continuous engagement in the way forward,’’ said Nazneen Shafi.

Statement about Award:

The Aga Khan Award for Architecture, founded by His Highness the Aga Khan in 1977, 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.

About the Aga Khan Trust for Culture

The Aga Khan Trust for Culture (AKTC) focuses on the physical, social, cultural and economic revitalization of communities in the developing world. It includes the Aga Khan Award for Architecture, the Aga Khan Historic Cities Programme, the Aga Khan Music Initiative, the on-line resource ArchNet.org and the Aga Khan Program for Islamic Architecture at Harvard University and the Massachusetts Institute of Technology. The Museums unit coordinates the development of museum projects including the Aga Khan Museum in Canada.

About EngageME

Engage ME is an education and culture entity based in Dubai and Toronto, with focus on building initiatives and managing projects related to education and cultural engagement. The mission is to create and collaborate in the learning process with cultural programs and resources which contribute towards cultural understanding and exchange. Working with governments, nonprofit institutions, private and public corporations and foundations we believe in the crosspollination of communities and ideas.

About Ismaili Centre

Since opening in 2008 the Ismaili Centre Dubai has actively pursued a mandate to enhance, facilitate and encourage mutual exchanges and understanding. In 2010 it was recognised by being awarded the Sheikh Mohammed bin Rashid Al Maktoum Patron of the Arts Award for its contribution to the development of Dubai’s cultural sector. Along with other Ismaili Centres located in London, Vancouver, Toronto, Lisbon and Dushanbe, the Ismaili Centre Dubai, continues a tradition of hosting programmes that stimulate the intellect, encourage dialogue, and celebrate cultural diversity through events ranging from lectures, seminars and exhibitions to cultural and social events. Since its opening, the Ismaili Centre Dubai has proudly hosted numerous arts, cultural, educational, and social activities in collaboration with diplomatic missions, governmental and civil society organizations. The Centre’s architecture respects a history of tolerance and openness, maintains focus on human scale and the recent past, it also draws inspiration from architect Hassan Fathy, renowned for his building in clay and for his “architecture for the people.”

About Alserkal Avenue 

Located in Al Quoz, Dubai and established in 2007, Alserkal Avenue is the region’s foremost contemporary arts and culture neighbourhood. Alserkal Avenue hosts 16 galleries, two private museums, four not-for-profit initiatives, an artists’ residency, and over 40 creative businesses, cultivating a vibrant community of visual and performing arts organizations, designers, and artisanal spaces that has become an essential platform for the development of the creative industries in the United Arab Emirates.

In March 2017, Alserkal Avenue opened Concrete, a new multi-disciplinary space in the Avenue and the first building to be completed in the UAE by the Office for Metropolitan Architecture (OMA), founded by Pritzker Architecture Prize-Laureate, Rem Koolhaas. Concrete provides a flexible, multipurpose venue for international arts and culture initiatives ranging from performances to exhibitions, lectures and various other public events.

Alserkal Avenue has recently launched Alserkal Residency on the Avenue, further enhancing the organisation’s commitment to cultivating artistic talent. Located in Alserkal Avenue, Alserkal Residency will run three cycles over the course of the year and is open to emerging and mid-career artists with an emphasis on socially engaged and research based practices, in addition to curators, writers and researchers working in related disciplines.

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