ABSTRACT

Urban design is a field of human activity that involves collective imagination, enterprise and values. However, the obvious need to coordinate and negotiate human activity has only recently gained a discursive nature as the practice became self-reflective and the process of urban form-making became closely linked to the efforts of demarcating the public against the private and center against margins. In the post-colonial city, urban design was further subjected to paradigms that engendered the public as a newly constructed imagined identity. Succumbing to internationalist trends was both a proof of belonging to the modern world but also a sign of subjugation to the colonial. The urban form of the post-colonial city can be creative and locally adaptive, but never originary.1 The paradigms that framed the question of urban form were often defined elsewhere. Complex issues of city making, such as the multi-layered demarcations of center versus margin, public versus private, and wealth versus abjection were often deferred in favor of symbolic representations of national or ethno-religious identities. The process of localizing the discourse on urban design involved many cultural stakeholders. In this chapter I will concentrate on the role of the Aga Khan Award for Architecture in contributing the emerging language and practice of urban design in the Muslim world.2