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Diriyah Biennale Foundation announces shortlist for AlMusalla Prize, set to revolutionize musalla architecture


Apr 15, 2024


Saudi Gazette report

JEDDAH — The Diriyah Biennale Foundation has announced the shortlisted architecture studios and competition details for the AlMusalla Prize.

This new architectural competition forms a significant part of the Islamic Arts Biennale. Aimed at designing a musalla — a space for prayer and gathering within Muslim culture — the competition aligns with the Biennale’s second edition.

It draws inspiration from the SOM-designed and Aga Khan Award-winning Western Hajj Terminal in Jeddah.

The finalists include prominent studios such as AAU Anastas from Palestine, Sahel AlHiyari from Jordan, EAST Architecture Studio from Lebanon/UAE, Dabbagh Architects from Saudi Arabia/UAE, and Asif Khan from the UK.

These teams were chosen based on their prior work, multidisciplinary approaches, and their understanding of Islamic art and architecture.

In the next phase, they will propose innovative designs for a versatile, modular musalla that will not only serve the four-month duration of the Biennale but will also be relocated and repurposed afterwards.

The competition’s jury boasts experts in architectural history, practice, and sustainability, especially within Islamic architecture.

Chaired by Prince Nawaf Bin Ayyaf, senior advisor to the Saudi Ministry of Culture, the panel includes Farrokh Derakhshani, director of the Aga Khan Award for Architecture; Lina Ghotmeh, renowned architect; Azra Aksamija, director of the MIT Future Heritage Lab; and Ali Malkawi, director of the Harvard Center for Green Buildings.

The winner of the AlMusalla Prize will receive $100,000 and the unique opportunity to see their design realized, contributing to the legacy of the Islamic Arts Biennale.

The foundation’s CEO, Aya Al-Bakree, emphasized the importance of creating reflective spaces that embody the foundation’s goal to craft perspectives and foster inclusivity.

The competition is a collaboration with the Abdullatif Al Fozan Award for Mosque Architecture, known for advancing mosque design innovation.

The anticipated opening of the musalla is set for Jan. 25, 2025, with the winner to be announced later this year.


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