From the presentations of the delegates during the last four days, it is evident that professors and educators in the architectural field do have a number of very fundamental concerns about the way in which their faculties [of architecture] are functioning …

I hope that the reasons underlying the more general difficulties experienced by universities in the developing world in their attempts to deal with the sort of issues which we have been discussing would be identified at a future seminar. Particularly relevant are the questions: What is the relationship between decision making at a university and a given school? How can a number of people get together to improve that decision-making process? For if such decision-making processes fail, then the whole debate that we have been having during the last four days was really discussing a lost cause.

In closing this seminar today, I would like to begin by expressing the thanks and gratitude of all the members who were present at this seminar, my wife’s and my own gratitude to His Majesty King Juan Carlos and Her Majesty Queen Sofia for having accepted to open our seminar. We also thank the President of the Junta of Andalusia, the Mayor of Granada and the many other officials who have helped this seminar to take place. As I have said before, I think it is important that the profession meet from time to time with the highest authority in the land. These seminars give us an occasion not only to meet the highest authority in the land, but also to share with them some of our concerns about the built environment with which we are dealing.

In this particular case I would like to express a very deep gratitude to the King and Queen who accepted to be with us the day before their official visit to Britain, a particularly generous gesture on their part.

In the past ten years, the Award for Architecture has asked itself a whole series of questions, perhaps the most important one among which being: What has been the cause of the gradual erosion of the cultural environment which we have all perceived occurring in the Islamic world?

In the past ten years, the Award for Architecture has asked itself a whole series of questions, perhaps the most important one among which being: What has been the cause of the gradual erosion of the cultural environment which we have all perceived occurring in the Islamic world? As time has passed, we have come to be more and more aware of the difficulties that architects have been facing in exercising their professions. What can be done to encourage more questions to be raised about this issue, to probe yet more deeply into the question of the environment, and to develop, hopefully, solutions for reversing this erosion. Answers to the questions we have been posing proved to be so evasive in the last ten years that their pursuit became the primary reason for holding this seminar.

From the presentations of the delegates during the last four days, it is evident that professors and educators in the architectural field do have a number of very fundamental concerns about the way in which their faculties are functioning, about their relationship with their students as well as their relationship with the societies in which they operate. My impression is that the analyses made by various delegates with respect to the problems under consideration have been largely shared by others, and I think a great many of the ideas that have been proposed by the Workshops are equally shared.

There is, however, great concern about how much can really be implemented. I think this latter problem of constraint is perhaps one which is generic to universities in the developing world and not one which is specific to schools of architecture. I hope that the reasons underlying the more general difficulties experienced by universities in the developing world in their attempts to deal with the sort of issues which we have been discussing would be identified at a future seminar. Particularly relevant are the questions: What is the relationship between decision making at a university and a given school? How can a number of people get together to improve that decision-making process? For if such decision-making processes fail, then the whole debate that we have been having during the last four days was really discussing a lost cause.

The Award has consistently sought to avoid becoming a school. I am extremely concerned that this should never be allowed to happen. On the other hand, I do think that one of the key roles the Award could play is to become a forum for thought, for exchange of ideas, for sharing of concerns, and, perhaps, for developing solutions to some of the problems which we are dealing with. I have been genuinely excited by the results of our Workshops that have come forward with a number of creative ideas which I hope would be implemented in the years ahead, in some, if not all, of the teaching institutions, both in the Islamic world and elsewhere.

Because I think education is so fundamental to all the thoughts that have been shared amongst us during the last four days, I am proposing that the Award renew its seminar on education. It should be renewed in approximately two years’ time to give us an occasion to discuss once again the issues as we perceive them at that time, to measure the progress that has been made, to review the extent to which the suggestions of the Workshops have been implemented and to see what lessons have been learnt from those Workshops.

I would also like to emphasise that there is a great variety in the Islamic world today. It would be wrong for us to expect every institution to follow a common pattern or find the miracle solution to the problems that we have been discussing. We should have the intellectual courage to push forward diversity of thought rather than to try to fit every idea into a given concept, because there can be hundreds of different solutions to the problems we are talking about, such as the relationships between architecture and faith, architecture and technology, architecture and society.

I would also like to emphasise that there is a great variety in the Islamic world today. It would be wrong for us to expect every institution to follow a common pattern or find the miracle solution to the problems that we have been discussing. We should have the intellectual courage to push forward diversity of thought rather than to try to fit every idea into a given concept, because there can be hundreds of different solutions to the problems we are talking about, such as the relationships between architecture and faith, architecture and technology, architecture and society. I think that the proceedings of this seminar have shown that educators are well aware of the problems, but I am not sure whether they have succeeded in communicating that awareness to the public. If that is indeed the case, then, perhaps, both the Award and schools of architecture should do more in communicating these concerns to the public so that our space of freedom of thought and debate is not restricted to the seminars, but becomes part of our everyday lives and of the people with whom architects are working.

In closing this seminar, I would like, therefore, to thank you for an extremely interesting series of discussions, and to invite you, with a fore-running of two years, to a seminar which I would like to see the Award organise on education in architecture. Perhaps by that time the Award can be made to become a continuing forum of thought and debate on this particular issue, if this idea is to be embraced by future delegates. I think that this issue is so fundamental to the future of the built environment that it is perhaps the one single area of concern which the Award should become permanently involved with as an ongoing theme.

Thank you very much indeed for accepting to be present and I hope that we will all be fortunate to meet in two years’ time.

His Highness the Aga Khan IV

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