A Qatar Foundation for Education, Science and Community Development (QF) building has won an award at the World Architecture Festival (WAF), a prestigious global celebration of inspirational architecture, held last week in Singapore. The QF building, which is home to the Education City Mosque and the Qatar Faculty of Islamic Studies (QFIS), a college of QF member Hamad Bin Khalifa University (HBKU), won in the category of ‘Religion – Completed Buildings’, and was the only Islamic building to have been shortlisted.

The building contains many symbolic and poetic references to Islam and its civilisation. The mosque’s structure for example rests on five large columns representing the five pillars of Islam, with each featuring a verse drawn from the Holy Qur’an.

The building reflects the Foundation’s commitment to originality and innovation, and the new accolade is testament to QF’s mission to promote Qatar around the world and to foster an engaged society appreciative of its Islamic and Arabic heritage. The building is a reinterpretation of the traditional model of the madrasa found in old Islamic Cities, where both education and worship are combined in one premise. The college also represents one of many institutions contributing to the comprehensive educational cycle offered by QF that provides quality learning to students to unlock their potential and foster a progressive society.

All winning projects in the different award categories were then shortlisted to take part in the selection for the World Building of the Year 2015, in which the QF building received high commendation from the Master Jury.

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The judges praised the QFIS building, designed by Mangera Yvars Architects (MYAA), as a project representing “a cultural breakthrough where client and architect have produced a remarkable building.”

The building was nominated to the WAF Awards by QF’s Capital Projects Directorate (CPD), with the support of the architects of the building Mangera Yvars Architects (MYAA). Speaking about the project, Ameena Ahmadi, Technical Director at Qatar Foundation Capital Projects Directorate said:

QFIS building is a true manifestation that the architecture of the Muslim world has its firm and timeless values, but the same can be interpreted through different models. The building is a continuous discovery of spatial qualities and pleasures, and a reminder to connect with one’s inner self and surrounding nature at the same time. Winning the award is recognition to the innovative potentials of spaces for learning and worship.’

The QFIS building, officially opened in March 2015, was among 338 projects from 47 countries shortlisted in a range of categories. It was one of three projects in Qatar, and 10 throughout the GCC, to be shortlisted at the awards.

Qatar Foundation delegates (far L, far R) with Ada Yvars (centre left) and Ali Mangera (centre right), architects of the building.
Qatar Foundation delegates (far L, far R) with Ada Yvars (centre left) and Ali Mangera (centre right), architects of the building.

In selecting the shortlist for WAF, judges were asked to choose projects that reflect quality design and were also requested to look for evidence of innovation, imagination and expression, both within the terms of the category and in the potential contribution of the projects to architecture generally.

The QFIS building is a complex structure that boasts natural light, a calm and neutral palette of whites, representing notions of serenity and purity. Water is used throughout the building with four streams flowing through its exterior and interior.

The building includes the latest amenities that take advantage of modern innovations alongside a respect for environment, in addition to being an architectural masterpiece that exemplifies the beauty of Islam and its moderation.

WAF is the world’s largest international architectural event and largest architectural awards programme and more than 2,000 architects from 60 countries attend the Festival.

To shed more light on this landmark, and other unique architecture built for education, the Qatar Foundation is organising a conference on the 27-28 November titled “Learning from Education City” were a number of signature architects and renowned thinkers will come to discuss buildings of Education City and the broader topic of space and learning.