Contents of the ‘Remarks’ category in chronological order.

Acceptance Remarks – 2011 University of California San Francisco Medal (San Francisco, USA)

[I]n much of the world where we work, our problem is volatility — volatility in economics, in governments and so on and so forth. I think what we’ve learned is that the best answer to this volatility, in the countries where we are, is civil society and very often civil society is not an expression everyone is comfortable with. But I’ll try synthesise it by saying it is really the sum of human endeavour in structured, non-governmental organisations, that aim to impact positively all the key forces which condition people’s quality of life…. Now in developing civil society we are not trying to bring mediocrity to the Developing World. We’re trying to do exactly what UCSF is doing, which is to bring quality and excellence.

Read more »

Remarks to villagers during visit to Ambalafary (Sofia, Madagascar) ·· incomplete

I hope in the years ahead, we can grow our partnership to have an even greater impact on the quality of life of the populations of Sofia and elsewhere. Microcredit must be sustained, increased and developed, and it should bring you additional support, in new activities, in health, in education, in commerce, in infrastructure. I look to the future with great confidence, confidence because this partnership, which you chose to join, is unfolding into a partnership which is victorious. And I think that in victory, we can all be very, very happy and I congratulate you and I thank you.

Read more »

National Building Museum Panel Discussion on ‘Design in the Islamic World and Its Impact Beyond’ at the Scully Seminar/Symposium (Washington D.C., USA)

Today, the absence of public spaces in the Islamic world is something of major concern to me. And, Charles, you were talking about city planning. I think we are, generally speaking, in the Islamic world still very weak on landscape architecture and planning. We will need to do a lot more there. A number of architectural schools actually are linked to schools of engineering. And that, in itself, tends to bring a form of architecture which may not necessarily be what we would be looking for. I’m not criticising that, but I’m saying what used to be a great strength in Islamic design seems to have disappeared. And one of the issues that we’re trying to develop now is to restore value to these traditional forms, and keep in mind that these materials in these forms are not without meaning.

In many, many cases they’re symbols, symbols of interpretation of the faith, symbols of viewing of the future and so on and so forth. So I think it’s very important that this notion of beauty should be respected and developed. Now taste changes so I think we have to be careful not to try to take the sense of taste of the past and stick it on an airport or stick it on a modern building. I mean, I think we have to live in our time and live in the future also.

Read more »

Remarks at the White House Conference on Culture and Diplomacy (Washington D.C., USA)

At present there is a great deal of apprehension about the future of local and national cultures in most countries in the developing world. What can the cultural diplomacy of the United States do to address these anxieties and replace them with a sense of confidence through new and shared initiatives? …

Cultures that do not or cannot communicate become increasingly isolated, inward-looking, and, in due course, marginalised. Some would argue the United States’ dominance of global communications systems is, because of what has been called the digital divide, a contributor to this problem. I would offer a different perspective. It seems to me that by a purposeful effort, the United States could play a significant role not only in making the cultures of Asia and Africa available globally. Doing so would also make a massive contribution to the full acceptance to the legitimacy and value of social and cultural pluralism, something that is urgently needed in most parts of the developing world.

Read more »

Discussion, Eleventh Seminar, ‘The Architecture of Housing’, The Aga Khan Award For Architecture (Zanzibar, Tanzania)

We are talking about how the processes can be organised and enhanced and encouraged by governments so that they release the capability of populations to build for themselves. Mona Serageldin’s paper showed the risk of disorganised processes and another paper showed the result of organised processes. If you make a comparison with health care, the curriculum of the specialist in primary health care is a different curriculum from the specialist in tertiary care. I wonder whether this is the area where the intervention of the architect and the role of architect should be reviewed because in the debate, it seems to me that the role of the architect is to impact the process and not the product. The impact on the product will be the result of impacting the process.

Read more »