Moriyama & Teshima Planners wins Aga Khan Award for Architecture for large-scale Saudi Arabian watershed restoration

Moriyama & Teshima Planners has been awarded the Aga Khan Award for Architecture for its work on the Wadi Hanifah restoration in Riyadh, Saudi Arabia. The award was presented by His Highness the Aga Khan at the Museum of Islamic Art in Doha, Qatar. Accepting the award were George Stockton, president, Drew Wensley, executive vice-president Moriyama & Teshima Planners and Jason Moriyama, partner Moriyama & Teshima Architects. 19 projects were shortlisted in the 2010 award cycle with five selected as Award recipients.

Located in the middle of the Najd Plateau of the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia, the Wadi Hanifa (or Hanifa valley) is the longest and most important valley near Riyadh, a natural water drainage course for an area of over 4,000 square kilometres and a unique geographical feature in this dry region. Until recently, many segments of the valley had been exploited in an aggressive and environmentally destructive manner. Moriyama & Teshima, in joint venture with engineers Buro Happold, successfully developed a design solution that enabled restoration of a 120-km watershed within a 4,032 square kilometre catchment that had become a toxic landfill in the heart of Riyadh.

“We knew this would be a case study for the world and that if it was successful on this scale, it could easily be applied to smaller scale interventions around the world,” said Drew Wensley, who has already twice been asked by the United Nations to speak on the firm’s groundbreaking work.  “The success of the Wadi proves that there are solutions available to tackle environmental challenges, even where extreme degradation exists.”

The award recognizes ecologically sound projects, in conception and implementation, which demonstrate sensitivity to environmental concerns. Results of the Wadi Hanifah include: the development of 53.2 kilometres of roads; six major parks; three lakes; 43 kilometres of recreational trails; the bioremediation of 400,000 cubic metres per day of waste water cleaned and recycled back to the city; the plantation of 35,500 shade trees and 4,500 date palm trees; a reduction of flash floods; the removal of 1,000,000 cubic metres of dumping; a 10-fold increase in property values along the Wadi corridor.

“Having the Master Jury refer to this project as a turning point for the environment is such important recognition of our work,” said George Stockton. “As a signature component of all our projects nationally and internationally, big or small, we combine cultural sensitivity and respect for Earth’s natural settings.”

Additional examples of Moriyama & Teshima Planners’ unique design philosophy include: The green roof for the Canadian War Museum building designed by affiliate Moriyama & Teshima Architects; Meewasin Valley Master Plan in Saskatchewan, Canada; Niagara Parks 100-Year Vision; Kuwait University Campus; environmental plan for Makkah, Saudi Arabia.

Moriyama & Teshima Planners is committed to creating environments needed to sustain humanity in the 21st century. They have directed its evolution over the past 30 years, building a body of award-winning landscapes and master plans for urban environments, ecological regions and entire watersheds.

The Aga Khan Award for Architecture was established in 1977 by His Highness the Aga Khan, the forty-ninth hereditary Imam of the Shia Ismaili Muslims, to enhance the understanding and appreciation of Islamic culture as expressed through architecture. The award is presented every three years and selection is governed by a Steering Committee chaired by the Aga Khan. The selection process emphasizes architecture that not only provides for people’s physical, social and economic needs, but that also stimulates and responds to their cultural and spiritual expectations.

You might also like