KHAN LAUNCHES NEW
ONLINE VENTURE - 'ARCHNET'
COASTWEEK - -
the world remains focused on conflict and destruction amidst Muslim societies, a
collaborative venture in technology shows how the East and the West can together
construct a world that recognises shared heritage.
Highness the Aga Khan, Imam (spiritual leader) of the Ismaili Muslims; Charles
M. Vest, President of Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT); and Lawrence
H. Summers, President of Harvard University have launched a global electronic
resource designed to bridge cultural, civilisational and digital divides.
ArchNet (http:/www.ArchNet.org) is the world’s largest online resource on architecture, urbanism, landscape design, and related issues with a particular focus on the Muslim world.
creative global community that ArchNet represents, with more than 6,000 members
from 110 countries, joins together the academic and professional resources of
two prominent universities and the Aga Khan Trust for Culture.
“Not only is ArchNet a means by which we share information on architecture and design,” said the Aga Khan, “it is also a very real attempt to build an architecture of understanding between those regions of the world that might benefit from a better understanding of each other.
think there is a consensus that we need that now more than ever.
particular importance lies in the way it informs the debate on what sort of
world we seek to build.”
COASTWEEK - - His Highness the Aga Khan.
Aga Khan also underlined the importance of locating it at “an institution
whose technological competencies would underwrite its capacity to serve decades
into the future.”
nothing more than a personal computer and an Internet connection, people
anywhere in the world can take advantage of this extraordinary online
faculty and architects from Cairo to Kuala Lumpur, Ahmedabad to Ankara, and
Damascus to Sarajevo are among those in some eight countries where partner
institutions contribute research, images, projects and monographs to ArchNet.
that about 70 per cent of ArchNet’s users were under the age of 35, the Aga
Khan described it as “an extraordinarily powerful resource at a global scale
which will be an ongoing living encyclopedia of knowledge for the younger
generations in the Islamic world.”
fulfils the original promise of the Internet,” said President Vest of MIT.
provides accessibility to teaching resources that are currently unavailable to
many universities, while creating a worldwide on-line community that is
constantly enriching the contents of the catalogue.
benefits. At MIT, we benefit from the upload of unique resources from ArehNet
partner schools, while schools around the world have the opportunity to choose
teaching materials from the combined resources of MI]’, Harvard, the Aga Khan
Trust for Culture, and other partner schools.”
for “the world in which all of our children will live,” said President
Summers of Harvard University, “makes it essential for universities like
Harvard and MIT to not just deepen our own understanding, but to deepen our
contribution to the understanding of things Islamic, to truly globalise what we
are all about, because there is very little else that is as important.”
trustees of God’s creation,” observed the Aga Khan, “we are instructed to
seek to leave the world a better place than it was when we came into it.
If ArchNet can help bring values into environments, buildings, and contexts that make the quality of life better for future generations than it is today, it will have served its purpose.”
to environmental design and landscape architecture, an area in which he said
“historically, the Islamic world has stood out,” the Aga Khan acknowledged
the commitment of the Harvard Design School to the academic programme that he
had endowed in these fields.
“MIT has a distinguished history of educating design and planning professionals and working with institutions in the developing world,” said William Mitchell, Dean, School of Architecture and Planning at MIT.
are proud to continue this tradition through the support we offer ArchNet’s
ArchNet is an example of Nit El’s OpenCourseWare initiative that makes course materials available on the World Wide Web, free of charge, to any user anywhere in the world.
in the developing world suffer continuing cost pressures, the perennial lack of
teaching materials and very limited access to publications, images, and
provides myriad ways of leapfrogging beyond cost or other constraints including
the provision of hardware and software, training, and infrastructure support.
site features include job listings, a digital calendar of events and
Aga Khan has established and leads a number of private, international,
nondenominational development agencies, collectively known as the Aga Khan
Network’s agencies seek to empower communities and individuals, often in
disadvantaged circumstances, to improve living conditions and opportunities.
in over 20 countries, the Network’s underlying impulse is the ethic of
compassion for the vulnerable in society and its agencies and institutions work
for the common good of all citizens, regardless of origin, gender or religion.
emphasis on improving the built environment echoes the multiple mandates of the
Aga Khan Development Network.
More specifically, ArchNet reflects the goals of the Aga Khan Trust for Culture, which include creating greater awareness and appreciation of the diversity and pluralism of Islamic cultures — within the Islamic world itself as well as in the West;
• increasing cross-cultural understanding of Islamic architecture and the intimate connection between architecture and culture in Islamic civilisations; and
improving the training of architectural professionals for work in the Islamic
builds on and complements the Aga Khan Programme for Islamic Architecture at
Harvard University and the Massachusetts Institute of Technology.
Programme, established under an endowment from the Aga Khan over two decades
ago, encompasses professorships, academic courses, research grants and archival
collections aimed at enhancing the understanding of Islamic art, architecture
and urbanism in light of critical, theoretical and development issues.
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