Skip to main content Skip to footer

Life Member Dr Wesam Al Asali receives Global Award for Sustainable Architecture

6 June 2024 Life Members

Our warmest congratulations to Dr Wesam Al Asali (Clare Hall PhD Architecture 2021; MPhil Architecture and Urban Studies 2016), and Dr Iyas Shahin, who have received the Global Award for Sustainable Architecture for their practice IWLab.

This prestigious award, held under the patronage of UNESCO, recognizes the contributions of five architects who exemplify principles of sustainable development and a participatory architectural approach to societal needs across the globe. IWLab was honored alongside esteemed scholars and practitioners including Anders Jaque Dean of GSAPP at Columbia University, Marina Tabassum (Aga Khan Awardee), Ciro Pirondi (Head of Escola de Cuidad en Brazil), and Klaus K. Loenhart (Architect and scholar based in Graz, designer of Austria Pavilion in Milan Expo 2015). The 2024 award theme was “Architecture Is Education”–the jury rewarded an innovative educational approach, capable of thinking and practicing architecture differently, while promoting among the new generations an ethical and responsible understanding of the profession.

Dr Wesam Al Asali (pictured far right) and Dr Iyas Shahin receiving the Global Award for Sustainable Architecture. Photo by Riccardo Tosetto.

IWLab is a multidisciplinary research laboratory founded in 2009 by Dr Wesam Al Asali and Dr Iyas Shahin, dedicated to the exploration, education, and practice of cultural and architectural design. With offices in Syria and Spain, IWLab architects collaborate closely with students and fellow architects to develop a network of creatives with diverse and interdisciplinary skills. Initially founded in response to the lack of vitality in architectural practice in Syria and the Arab region, IWLab has become a pioneer in architecture, heritage, and urban studies within a socioeconomic context. Since 2009, the founders have recognized the importance of the city in its various forms, developing approaches to modernize traditional techniques and map informal urban areas.

“Receiving the Global Award marks a significant milestone in my research and career journey. It is particularly meaningful given my formative years at Cambridge, where I studied the integration of traditional and sustainable building techniques with advanced building technology. The insights gained during my time at Cambridge have greatly influenced our approach at IWLab, guiding us to focus on local building techniques and sustainable architectural practices,” Wesam said.

IWLab’s emphasis on local knowledge and sustainable architecture was specifically acknowledged by the award’s jury.

Photo by Riccardo Tosetto

In the Laudatio, the jury shared, “[IWLab] experiments with local materials and explores the complex relationships between the Middle East’s built and natural environments to develop collaborative projects and training opportunities that prioritize the exchange of traditional knowledge at all levels.”

One of IWLab’s projects, Rehabilitation Of Um Myal Mud Dome Village (photo courtesy of Dr Wesam Al Asali)

Learn more about IWLab on their website and follow their Instagram.