The Lifetime Achievement Award celebrates the achievements of individuals who have made significant contributions towards humanity and the advancement of architecture and the built environment in the Near East and North Africa. The award also recognises those whose commitments to architecture were and continue to be unparalleled. The award was established in 2014 as part of the Tamayouz Excellence Award programme, which champions and celebrates the best architecture worldwide. For 2020, it has been given to prominent Egyptian Architect Dr Abdelhalim Ibrahim Abdelhalim.
Born in September of 1941, Dr Abdelhalim is a professor of architectural design and theory at Cairo University in Egypt and the principal of Community Design Collaborative Abdelhalim (CDC Abdelhalim), a private architectural planning and development consultancy firm he established in 1978. Dr Abdelhalim received his PhD in architecture from the University of California, Berkley in 1978; a Master’s in architecture from the University of Oregon in 1968; a Graduate Diploma in housing and building technology from Cairo University in 1967, and a Bachelor’s in architecture also from Cairo University in 1963.
Over the last 40 years, he has worked on a significant number of challenging projects and collaborated with some of the world’s most renowned architects. His work spans the sectors of residential, institutional, community, urban development and administrative, and his projects can be seen all over the world, particularly in the Middle East and North Africa, as well as countries such as the UK, US, Spain, Nigeria, Malaysia, Eritrea, the Philippines and Uzbekistan.
Dr Abdelhalim’s portfolio includes Egyptian embassies and consulates in Kuwait (2016), Jordan (2005), Uzbekistan (2005) and Saudi Arabia (1998); Al-Hamad Palace in Bahrain (1993); the Brookins A.M.E. Church in California, US (1979); New Helwan in Egypt (1980); the Black Repertory Community, Cultural, Art Center in California, US (1982); Dirriyah City in Saudi Arabia (1998); the AUC New Campus Development in Cairo, Egypt (1999); Dirriyah Girls Students Campus of HM King Suad University in Riyadh, Saudi Arabia (2002); Dhofar University in Oman (2005); Spanish Coastal Redevelopment in Andalusia (1975); the Children’s Cultural Park in Cairo, Egypt (1983), for which he received an Aga Khan Award for Architecture, and many more.
During his decades-long career, Dr Abdelhalim has developed a sound knowledge of working with traditional designs, materials and systems. Under his guidance, CDC Abdelhalim became known for its adoption of such approaches, and its awareness of the historical and cultural settings of each project. “Rituals contain the configuration of the basic myth in its form, and regenerates the content of the myth in its encounter,” he has said. Through Dr Abdelhalim’s unique philosophy, CDC Abdelhalim became not only a firm, but a school of thought. And this school of thought has been broken down to more than one discipline through the understanding of rituals and how different communities operate.
In an attempt to further incorporate local communities with the architecture, Dr Abdelhalim, in several projects, was keen on engaging the local community with the building process and using building materials from the local context, increasing the community’s sense of place. This can be seen in his projects such as the Children’s Cultural Park in Cairo (1983). Inspired by the architectural and geometrical order of Ibn Tulun Mosque, the park was designed and built with the support of outstanding community participation, using local materials, labour and techniques.
In addition to his built work, he has taught in the architectural departments of various academic institutions including Massachusetts Institute of Technology in the US (1987), University of California in the US (1972-1978), University of Virginia in the US (1972), Assuit University in Egypt (1963-1965), and many more. Since 1980, Dr Abdelhalim has maintained a constant position as a full-time professor of architectural design and theory at Cairo University.
Dr Abdelhalim’s work and contributions to the built environment have been well recognised. After receiving the Aga Khan Award for Architecture in 1992 for the Children’s Cultural Park in Cairo, he went on to receive the below prizes:
- Arab Cities Award, 1993
- Egyptian Syndicate Award for Excellence in Architecture, 1999
- State Award for Creativity in Art & Architecture, 1999
- Sultan Qaboos Architectural Prize, 2002
- State Appreciation Award for Creativity in Arts and Architecture, 2018
Ahmed Al-Mallak, founding director of Tamayouz Excellence Award, said: “We are delighted to celebrate the lifelong career of Dr Abdelhalim Ibrahim Abdelhalim who, throughout his career, has shown commitment towards the communities he is designing for by understanding their culture, behaviour and rituals while engaging them in a participatory design process. He is an architect, academic and, above all, a mentor whose legacy continues through generations of young Egyptian architects who, beside their mentor, are shaping Egypt and its architectural future.”
The Lifetime Achievement Award was previously presented to Iraq’s renowned architects: Dr Mohamed Makiya (2014), Dr Rifat Chadirji (2015), Dr Kahtan Al-Madfai (2016), Hisham Munir (2017) and Maath Alousi (2018). In 2019, the award opened to architects from across the Near East and North Africa, and was presented to Palestinian-Jordanian architect Dr Rasem Badran.
Tamayouz Excellence Award is sponsored by Coventry University, the Iraqi Business Council in Jordan, Kufa – Makiya Charity, Dewan Architects + Engineers, Ayad Al-Tuhafi Architects, Bonair Ltd, British Airways, Final Fix Interiors, JT+Partners, LWK + PARTNERS, and the United Nations Global Compact – Iraq Network.