Shaikh Nahyan Bin Mubarak Al Nahyan, Minister of Tolerance, and Noora Mohammad Al Kaabi, Minister of Culture and Knowledge Development, take a tour of the Aga Khan Historic Cities Programme at Alserkal Avenue in Dubai in the presence of Nazneen Shafi and other dignitaries. Image Credit: Supplied

Dubai: A new education initiative under the mentorship of the Aga Khan Award for Architecture is launching a learning programme to promote architecture and design in the UAE.

The Young Architect and Design Programme (YADP) will open a dedicated space for learning and cultural engagement called the d. Academy in partnership with Alserkal Avenue.

The focus of the d. Academy, located in Warehouse 44 in Alserkal Avenue, will be to help the exchange of ideas and a better understanding of architecture, planning practices, historic preservation and landscape architecture.

With a year-long calendar of exhibitions, workshops, lecture series and seminars, the YADP will run under the stewardship of Engage ME, a Toronto- and Dubai-based education and culture entity.

“The objective of the programme is to positively influence and guide young minds towards the issues and challenges of the future built environment, particularly the issues of development and urbanisation,” said Nazneen Shafi, executive director of Engage ME.

“Alserkal Avenue was the ideal partner for us, to be located in an environment that supports culture in all its forms.”

’We are happy to collaborate with Ismaili Centre and the Aga Khan Trust for Culture, which are the institutions of the Ismaili Imamat. The Ismaili Centre has played a vital role in the initiation and conceptualization of YADP, we look forward to their continuous engagement in the way forward,’’ said Shafi.

The d. Academy was inspired by words delivered by Aga Khan, founder and chairman of the Aga Khan Award for Architecture, on the occasion of the 40th anniversary of the Aga Khan Award for Architecture.


Upon being awarded the President’s Medal, the highest honour by The Architectural League of New York, Aga Khan remarked: “In thinking about the way societies live in the developing world, in the industrialised world, I came to a very simple conclusion: what is the art form that has the most important impact on every society, in every part of the world? And the answer is quite simply architecture.”

Vilma Jurkute, director of Alserkal Avenue, said: “In a rapidly evolving city like Dubai, ventures like d. Academy are crucial to facilitating discourse around the value of architecture — both historical and modern — and helping to educate the next generation. We look forward to bringing this initiative to life in Alserkal Avenue.”

The inaugural exhibition at d. Academy is The Aga Khan Historic Cities Programme (HCP), which, through its projects, seeks to be a catalyst to improve quality of life by activating culture as a springboard for economic and social development.