Muscat: His Highness Sayyid Bilarab bin Haitham bin Tarik Al Said launched the Bilarab Bin Haitham Award for Architectural Design, which targets Omani youth specialised in the fields of architecture and design, including scholars and job seekers who meet the conditions of the competition.
The award comes in line with the future vision and aspirations of the Sultanate of Oman (Oman Vision 2040) in developing its various regions architecturally according to their geographical environment and civilizational identity. Moreover, it comes in line with the development taking place in the field of architecture and design around the world.
This annual and local award aims to design and create unique architectural projects in certain areas of the Sultanate of Oman with a distinctive architectural character that combines originality and contemporary and can be adopted on the ground.
The award seeks to utilise the environmental and terrain diversity of the Sultanate of Oman in its various governorates, where different topics would be presented in the architectural design targeting annually a specific architectural topic and a specific region or governorate.
HH Sayyid Bilarab has affirmed that the award is being launched with the blessing of His Majesty the Sultan. His Majesty hailed the idea of the competition and its directions and much-admired the goals it seeks, said HHSayyid Bilarab.
He assured that His Majesty’s blessing is a motive for the award to strive and to achieve its visions and aspirations.
HH Sayyid Bilarab explained that the award stems from the idea of launching a local competition with a global vision, targeting Omani youth specialised in the fields of architecture and design. Moreover, to present modern architectural and urban designs with artistic visions that combine tradition and contemporary to develop a specific area in the Sultanate of Oman, elaborated.
The best of specialised Omani youth to be selected to compete and qualify to win the Bilarab Bin Haitham Architectural Design Award.
He added also that there are many goals the competition seeks to achieve, insisting that “the award targets Omani youth, so our mission and goals in this field lie in investing and empowering local architectural capabilities and skills, to develop different regions in the Sultanate of Oman which could contribute to achieve an added value. The competition perhaps is one of the appropriate ways to invest and empower these capabilities of young people in this aspect. It may also be a gateway for them to cross into the future with more creative ideas and aspirations, and this creativity we hope will be reflected on the ground.”
As for the objectives of the competition, HH Sayyid Bilarab affirmed that the ultimate goal is to listen to the voice of young people in a very special way, saying that “His Majesty Sultan Haitham Bin Tarik underscored the necessity of paying attention and listening to the Omani youth. Thus, through this award and competition we will make sure to listen to the creative ideas of young people in an artistic way that seeks towards urban development and creativity in the fields of architecture and related design. On the other hand, we have made sure that there is a general goal for this award bearing the slogan: “Towards an innovative and contemporary Omani architectural style”, and this goal may be closer to the artistic aspect; while not neglecting other goals related to the local community, or empowering and developing the capabilities of youth; the award is contributing to the realisation of the aspirations of Oman 2040 vision, through the outputs and developmental visions that the award will provide, whether for existing projects or creating new ones.”
On the general objective of the award and its contents and connotations, HH Sayyid Bilarab confirmed that the Omani architectural style is rich as it enjoys great diversity in the various governorates of the Sultanate of Oman, and the nature and geography of the country have contributed to achieving this richness.
The style of plain, as well as the style of the coast differ from the style of the interior regions, and perhaps designers have sought throughout the previous years to imitate those styles, so traditional projects and facilities based on the old urban style appeared in their design, and there are few who sought to develop them, or modernize them to make them well-urbanised while keeping pace with time’ thus, the award is keen that presented proposals, perceptions and participations in its competition are innovative, contemporary, and sustainable at the same time, said HH Sayyid Bilarab.
As far as the targeted groups are concerned, he explained that the award was keen to address the Omani youth of both genders. “Young Omani who are specialised in the fields of architecture, design and urban planning can participate in the announced competition, and we are keen not to extend the age group too much, and to regulate the age of the participants with no more than 35 years of age. We included job seekers and students, with the aim of providing a greater opportunity for young people in this age; avoiding their competing with older age groups who may have more experience in this field,” HH Sayyid Bilarab further explained.
He said that this award competition is an opportunity for young people towards creativity, and the award allows young people to participate in its competition either individually or in a team of no more than three people; who can collectively submit their proposal bearing their names, taking into account the commitment to the conditions of the competition.
Regarding the new feature that distinguishes Bilarab Bin Haitham Award for Architectural Design from other awards; HH Sayyid Bilarab stated that ‘’since the beginning of the thought of launching this award, we had a vision for this award to be different from its local counterparts. Therefore, the idea was to focus on what happens after the announcement of the winner of the award; and particularly on the outcome of the winning project. Thus, we were keen that the idea was to utilise the project, implement it and follow it up, whether through investment, or through the relevant government agencies, where the award worked in coordination with these bodies. The matter is that, we will make sure the winning project sees the light of day in any location in the Sultanate of Oman.’’
As for the conditions of participation in the Award competition; he stated that “we have made sure that these conditions are simple and free of complexity, in order to involve the largest possible number of young people in the competition; in addition to the main condition that participation is limited to Omani youth who are not over 35 years old. In general, it was necessary for the participants to be familiar with the architectural design and presentation programs, since these programs are the ones to be relied upon in such projects. There are also some technical conditions that participating groups can refer to, whether on the award’s website, or through its pages on social media platforms.”
Regarding the prizes monitored by the Bilarab bin Haitham Architectural Design Award for those who will have the opportunity to qualify for the final stage; HH Sayyid Bilarab affirmed that “we have studied many options in this regard, and we sought for the awards to be equivalent to the efforts of those who will reach the coronation stage; and we would like to point out that there are ten competitors who will qualify for the final stage, and this stage, according to the plan, is concerned with submitting proposals to the jury or committee, where each contestant must submit a presentation to the committee about his project ideas, proposals, and technical perceptions within a period of time. And the jury has the right to discuss it in all the details, and in the end, three winners of those ten contestants will be awarded with big prizes.”
Regarding what the award will add to society in general, His Highness explained that “since the first indications of thinking about launching this award, there was a tendency for the award to have an added value, whether it was on society, on the contestants or on the business sector in general. What the award envisioned was that it would provide the opportunity for small and medium-sized enterprises to benefit from the projects that would be developed or established, through the establishment of service outlets provided by some of these institutions run by Omani youth, such as cafes, food shops, antiques and souvenir shops or other activities that are commensurate with each project being implemented and developed. As for the added value of the participants in the competition; the award also aims to hold and implement technical workshops for participants in the areas it targets, and we hope that these workshops will provide the participants with new skills and knowledge. On the community level, it is hoped that the award will contribute to adding aesthetic touches and developing vital sites to form an outlet for the audience to spend beautiful times with their families and companions.”
As for the competition cycle and the timing of its organisation, HH Sayyid Bilarab explained, “The plan for this award is to be held annually, which prompted us to realize that our dear country is very vast; and one of the axioms that the award emphasizes is its circumvention of all parts of Oman. This will only be possible by the continuity of this award. Therefore, we decided that the award should have an annual cycle targeting each year a certain governorate, a specific geographic space, or a different architectural style. We are keen that the award will leave its positive impact in all parts of our country, and have a contribution to the development of a facility, the modernization of a specific tourist attraction or creating a new facility with a creative vision that is environmentally friendly.”
At the end of his statements, HH Sayyid Bilarab addressed the Omani youth by saying that “this award was created for you, and you are qualified to present your suggestions, visions and ideas through which you seek to make a qualitative leap in the architecture and design sector. Therefore, the field is open to you towards creativity, proficiency, and unprecedented perceptions. Moreover, we will not hesitate to study any proposal submitted to us that meets the technical conditions set by the jury.”
His Highness stressed that “homelands are built only with the hands of their generations, and we can consider this award as an invitation to build our country, as the field is open to young people, who are worthy of their visions and aspirations in this regard.”