ALHAMRA ARTS COUNCIL: THE SPECTACULAR BUILDING OF LAHORE, PAKISTAN

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ALHAMRA ARTS COUNCIL: THE SPECTACULAR BUILDING OF LAHORE, PAKISTAN

Alhamra Arts Council (also termed as the Alhamra Hall, Alhamra Cultural Complex, Alhamra Art Gallery and Lahore Arts Council) was designed by Nayyar Ali Dada and completed in the year of 1992.

The Alhamra Arts Council is situated on a colonial-period road in the city of Lahore, Pakistan that was formerly known as Mall Road and has been renamed as Shahrah Quaid-e-Azam. The origins of the arts complex lie in an earlier commission of Nayyar Ali Dada to design a 1000-seat auditorium for the Alhambra Arts Council (AAC), of which he was a member. The Alhamra Arts Council had been provided the site by the government in the years instantly following independence but had typically staged its performances outdoors. The auditorium was completed in the year of 1979 and replaced few temporary buildings.

A further 3 phases of construction followed that of the auditorium. There were commissioned from Dada by the Lahore Arts Council, a government organization that took over the project from the non-governmental AAC following a conflict concerning ownership of the land. The first of these phases was completed in the year of 1984 and contained offices and art galleries housed in 4 octagonal structures. In the following year, a 450-seat theatre in hexagonal form was added to the existing auditorium and, in the year of 1992, an octagonal 250-seat facility for lectures and recitals was completed. The infrastructures are placed in a manner that creates semi-enclosed courtyards and the several polygonal shapes in their design are intended to modify acoustics when used for performances.

The complexes are influenced by Mughal architecture and are built using a veneer of handmade red bricks overlaying a concrete form. The bricks are bonded with a regional mortar and depict the construction of the ancient Lahore Fort and Badshahi Mosque, as well as the red sandstone that was preferred by the Mughals.

The design was a winner of the Aga Khan Award for Architecture in the year of 1998, when the jury described it as “a unique example of flexible spaces that has enabled various additions to be made over time, each of which has in turn enhanced, instead of detracted from, its overall architectural value. This is a very famous and successful public building, projecting its complexities in a simple and strong manner.”

 

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