Recipient of the Aga Khan Award for Architecture in 1983.
One of the masterpieces of 18th century Islamic architecture, this palace was extensively damaged in 1925 when French troops shelled the old quarter of the city during a Syrian uprising. At the time of the award the restoration of the complex (which in 1954 became a folk museum) had been ongoing for 34 years. The work called for extensive research, resourcefulness and imagination. The conservators relied on plans made by the French in the 1920s and on descriptions by members of the Azem family. They had the foresight to purchase for re-use in the reconstructions stones and ornament from other buildings of the same period being demolished to make way for the modern roads being constructed in Damascus. The jury commended the project for being "an important one in re-establishing cultural identity and cultural continuity and in developing expertise and artisanal skills. The reconstitution of the Azem Palace has been an important event in the Islamic world, its significance being more than that of a case of restoration."
Source: Aga Khan Trust for Culture
Restoration of the Palace of Asad Pasha al-Azm (Variant)
Cantacuzino, Sherban, editor. Architecture in Continuity. New York: Aperture, 1985.
Architecture in Continuity celebrates projects throughout the Islamic world that most successfully preserve indigenous forms while providing for the future, It honors the insight, imagination, and skill that brought these projects into physical reality. The Aga Khan Awards attention to the extraordinary effort required to develop an architecture both practical and spiritual is dramatically reflected in this volume, the second (1983) of the Aga Khan Award for Architecture series. The eleven projects found in nine countries from Mali to Pakistan, from Yugoslavia to Malaysia, range from hotels to mosques, from housing to an impressive air terminal for pilgrims to Mecca. The Award winners show a deep respect for tradition, displayed in the historic buildings restored for contemporary purposes. Everyone connected with each project - the architect, client, and builder, the local craftsmen, artisans, and consultants - is honored for contributing to an integrity of purpose, to a spirit that is of and for the people. This collection of color photographs by some of the world's finest photographers exquisitely depicts the Award-winning buildings. The introduction and three essays, by distinguished architects and architectural historians, explore the projects in terms of the pressures confronting emerging Muslim countries, the influence of the Western postindustrial world, and traditional Muslim forms and values.