OCTOBER 23, 1980


Highlights from the Speech by Hazar Imam at the Award Presentation Ceremony - Shalimar Gardens

-Within life's span, there are days of special happiness, days of pride and days of humility. This is such a day for me. It represents the culmination of a vigorous effort, hope and deep conviction that a significant change can be achieved in the environment in which Muslims live.

-...the Awards have recognised .... the part of the common man creating for himself and his neighbours a setting for life and for health, preserving and utilising what nature has created, developing ways to maintain his identity rather than accepting the elephantine massiveness of so much of to-day's world.

-We have recognised an architecture for men, women and children, not yet an architecture for history books and tourists. Through architecture we are recognizing the quality of life within the Muslim world to-day. And by recognizing a housing project developed by a whole community or a medical centre, we are preserving for all times the memory of this quality of life.

-... we are recognising as unique a creative and generative process in which the imagination of one architect or the expectation of Muslim patrons and users interact constantly. Within this continuum no single moment or decision can be isolated like the element of a chemical compound, because it is creative like itself; it is the elusive process of human existence which is the winner, not merely a monument.

-....as the Award highlights the search of the Muslim world for an architecture centered on man and proclaiming the potential of life, an example is given to the whole world how this can be done. In part it is simply that the Muslim message is a universal one and not restricted to a few areas or a few ethnic groups. But, in a deeper sense, what we are trying to achieve, this environment we are looking for, is not only ours. It is also something we want to share with the whole world, not as an exercise in pride or vanity, but because of our belief that the means at our disposal may allow us to sharpen issues, to discover solutions for all mankind to use and understand.

-However useful and essential outside experts may be, however international contemporary architecture has become, our past, our roots, give us the right to say that the choices we make are our choices and that the opportunities we have to-day will do for the next decades what early Muslims did in Spain, Syria or Iran, what the Ottoman Turks, Timurids or Mughals did some five to six hundred years ago in Anatolia, Iran or India: to understand sufficiently well what was available and appropriate in non-Muslim lands in order to create something profoundly Muslim.

-While preserving and nurturing the immense variety of our vernacular architecture, how will we be able to channel the necessity of high technology without becoming its slaves? There are areas, perhaps such as those of solar energy, of water conservation, or thermic control, or of pre-fabrication, where we can - no, where we should - become leaders rather than followers, where our needs can revolutionise the rest of the world.

-Not only do we know too little about ourselves, but we have not as yet been able to form in sufficient numbers our own experts and practitioners with full competence to solve the environmental problems of to-morrow....Clearly we must develop ways to make our own schools of architecture and of planning places to which others will want to come, and this will require yet another kind of intellectual and practical effort. For, even if we create an architecture worthy of praise, we would have partly failed unless we form ourselves the men and women who will realise that architecture.

-From the travails and labours of thousands, humble masons or expensive experts, there have emerged those works made by us and for us which we can present as being, all together, as an aggregate, as a group, the statement of our hopes and of our expectations as much as of our achievements.

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