The prestigious award, a global prize created in 1988 by the Japan Art Association to commemorate its 100th anniversary, has become a mark of the highest international distinction for the arts.

Apart from the award for architecture, four other categories were identified to confer the Praemium Imperiale Award: sculpture, music, theatre/film and, for the first time, photography.

Tom Stoppard, noted playwright and screenwriter, became the Theatre/Film Laureate. The Praemium Imperiale Awards carry prizes of 15 million yen (approximately $163,000) each.

They recognise a lifetime achievement in the arts in categories not covered by the Nobel Prizes.

Zaha Hadid takes the torch from Peter Zumthor, who was last year’s Architecture Laureate and is also this year’s winner of another prestigious award, the Pritzker Prize.
Other previous winners of the coveted Japanese award include Lords Richard Rogers and Norman Foster, Renzo Piano and Oscar Niemeyer. Praemium Imperiale candidates are nominated by a distinguished panel of international advisers and selected by the Japan Art Association. Born in 1950 in Baghdad, Zaha Hadid established her own practice in 1979. She has created innovative designs that stretch  the boundaries of contemporary architecture. Zaha Hadid’s achievements this year include the completion of the Burnham Pavilion in Chicago; the transformation of an exhibition space at the Manchester art gallery into a concert hall during the 2009 Manchester International Festival; and the design of a monolithic business park called Stone Towers in Cairo. “Working in Japan has been critical to the development of my work around the world,” said Zaha Hadi. “My Japanese clients shared a passion for architecture, allowing us to investigate many things and design very powerful projects, interesting in their complexity and essential in developing our repertoire of work. Through our architecture, we can enthuse people and make  them excited about new ideas.”

Zaha Hadid and the other laureates will attend the awards ceremony on October 22, presided over by the honorary patron of the Japan Art Association, Prince Hitachi.                                                                                                                                                    
Affordable housing projects are in
Recession has come as a harsh reminder to the real estate sector, but importantly it has taught many lessons. It comes as a litmus test, and who survives is evaluated after each recession.

The real estate sector witnessed a shift in focus from luxurious penthouses, villas with extravagant gardens and fittings to compact, budget housing.
Affordable homes became the order of the day. Large organisations like Tata and Godrej cashed on the ‘nano’ term and forayed into real estate sector.  
Ittina Mahabaleshwarappa, Managing Director of Ittina Properties, referred to as the ‘King of Affordable Housing’ in the real estate segment. One of the flagship projects, Ittina Neela houses about 1200 apartments in a complex with all essentials and makes it a cozy township by itself.

In 2006, these apartments were sold at a rate as low as Rs 2.65 lakh for a two bedroom apartment and today, the owners vouch for it as their most intelligent investment option. Ittina Neela has beautifully landscaped gardens, children’s play area, jogging track, a shopping arcade which has a restaurant, departmental store and a temple. Ittina products range from Rs 10 to 50 lakh, and offer luxury in a limited budget.
Best floor space utilisation, ergonomical construction methodologies and amenities that are world class are what make Ittina homes a good buy. The projects on offer today are Ittina Mahavir in Electronic City where a studio and a one bedroom apartment costs Rs 14.5 lakh.

Ittina Mahavir has all modern amenities like swimming pool, club house, gymnasium, departmental store, tennis court, basketball court, jogging track and children's play area. The project is in the vicinity of many IT companies like Wipro, Infosys, HCL, HP, etc which also makes it a viable option for investors. Ittina Anagha on Sarjapur Road is the latest launch, offering semi-attached villas for about Rs 20 lakh with a private garden or terrace area in a serene location.