Free Essay On The Aga Khan Museum And The Ismaili Centre, Toronto
Opened on September 18, 2014, the Aga Khan Museum is a museum located in Down Mills neighborhood, Toronto suburbs, Canada. It was founded by the Aga Khan Trust for Culture agency overseen by Aga Ghan, the leader of world’s Ismailis. It holds a collection of Islamic art works as well as works of the Institute of Ismaili Studies and Prince Sadruddin Aga Khan and from the His Highness the Aga Khan’s private collection. The museum’s collection represents the Muslim civilization contribution to the world’s culture.
The museum was designed by Fumihiko Maki, famous Japanese architect and winner of the Pritzker Architecture Prize. Light was an inspiration for Fumihiko. That is why there’s nothing surprising that it is almost everywhere in the building. What is more, light animates the building in infinite number of ways depending on the season or daytime. This looks amazingly since the exterior is made of Brazilian granite. Light also animates the museums interior: “within, the museum’s galleries are rational white boxes, with teak flooring and indirect light from a series of skylights scooped from the building’s roof line.” There is also a square black stone pound in front of the entrance. Although the building doesn’t have too much space (it is 81 metres long and 54 metres wide), it has a number of spaces. They include two exhibition galleries, a theatre, two classrooms, areas for conversation and storage. Having made a truly contemporary and urbanistic building, Fumihiko also tried to include traditional Islamic elements of culture. The interior courtyard with ornaments of an eight-pointed star used to modulate the sun, for instance, is a traditional item of Islamic building.
The museum holds a collection of art works and artifacts relating to cultural, religious and intellectual traditions of the Muslims. All the periods of Islamic history are represented by paintings, ceramics, metalwork and manuscripts from the museum’s collection. What is more, the museum’s aim is not only to deposit valuable for the Ismaili community works but also to settle the space for Islamic-Western exchanges on various issues.
Ismaili Centre is situated across from the Aga Khan Museum within a landscaped park. Its designers are well-known Indian architecture Charles Correa as well as Moriyama & Teshim Architects firm based in Toronto. This building was opened on September 12, 2014 several days before the Aga Khan Museum opening. Ismaili Centre is one of the sixth such centers in the world. Correas’s approach was a bit similar to the Maki’s one used for the Aga Khan Museum design. The idea was to combine contemporary trends with Islamic traditions while using modern materials.
The result is quit astonishing. The most stunning feature of the building is the glass roof over the prayer hall. It relates to the Islamic tradition of corbelling in various domes. Another thing to see is “Muqarnas”, a corbelled ceiling providing a transition to the prayer hall die to the skylight. Social area is connected with the prayer hole by sophisticated foyer with the geometric stone floor. The social hall has the glass roof as well and is always full of natural light because it is almost two-story high. This space has also an exit to the gardens. There are a library and a number of classrooms on the upper floor that are full of natural light as well. The administrative offices together with the boardroom are located on the upper level with magnificent views on the city and the park.
Ismaili Centre consists of a number of spaces including a prayer hall (jamatkhana), spaces for educational, social and cultural activities. Thus, this building is devoted not only for prayer gathering purposes but has much greater plans and ambitions. They include hosting various lectures, seminars and exhibitions. Ismaili Centre has a truly pluralistic spirit: “it reflects the deep-set Ismaili values – pluralistic commitments that are so deeply embedded in Canadian values.”
The landscaped park is the third object in the complex together with the Aga Khan Museum and the Ismaili Centre. It was designed by Vladimir Djurovic, the Lebanese landscape architect. The park is composed of two types of gardens: formal and informal. The formal ones are made in accordance with the Charbagh, traditional Persian garden layout. They also have pools looking like mirrors and walkways. The Ismaili Centre is connected with the Aga Khan Museum through this park. However, the park was not created only to connect these two buildings. It provides spaces for various outdoor activities and gathering both entertaining and educational. It is also a perfect place for relaxation.
So, the complex of building that were built from the initiative of His Highness the Aga Khan, including the Aga Khan Museum, the Ismaili Centre and the Park is on the one hand, a great architecture complex and, on the other hand, represents to best advantage the Ismaili’s traditions and Aga Khan’s appreciation of the Canada’s contribution to cultural diversity in particular.
Bozikovic, Alex. "Building on Faith: Inside Toronto's New Aga Khan Museum, Designed by the World's Leading Architects." The Globe and Mail. August 1, 2014. Accessed February 16, 2015. http://www.theglobeandmail.com/life/home-and-garden/architecture/building-on-faith-inside-torontos-new-aga-khan-museum-designed-by-the-worlds-leading-architects/article19887289/
Khan, Aga. "Ismaili Centre: Place of Prayer, Cradle of Friendship." The Globe and Mail. September 17, 2014. Accessed February 16, 2015. http://www.theglobeandmail.com/globe-debate/ismaili-centre-place-of-prayer-cradle-of-friendship/article20624820/
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