For Indian architect Raj Rewal, himself from a non-Muslim tradition, the diversity of architecture across the Muslim world and the building traditions of the Iberian Peninsula contributed to his understanding of composing space. The design brief called for a centre which would draw upon traditional design approaches from Muslim civilizations yet avoid transplanting any idiom particular to a specific locale in its entirety. Significant emphasis was placed upon technological innovation and on construction that would be appropriate to the area. The architects’ response was influenced by the morphology of traditional spatial arrangements, by the notion of Islamic gardens and by the patterns in architecture that have served different Muslim societies.
The objective was the creation of a complex of spaces and buildings whose cultural and social dimensions would complement each other as well as functional, educational facilities and institutional offices, whilst also providing reflective space for the Ismaili community’s own use. A geometric fusion of gardens and courtyards as well as buildings embodying in hewn stone surfaces, polished tile and delicately balanced cupolas, an unusual multi-cultural and multi-functional complex, constitutes the architectural concept of the Ismaili Centre.
Jodidio, Philip, editor. Ismaili Centres. In Under the Eaves of Architecture: The Aga Khan Builder and Patron. Munich: Prestel, 2008.
Ismaili Centres, from the book Under the Eaves of Architecture: The Aga Khan Builder and Patron.
The Aga Khan has launched numerous initiatives that aim in one way or another to improve the built environment of the Muslim world. For the first time, this book reveals the reasoning behind these efforts and their very substantial scale and ambition. It can safely be said that through the agencies of the Aga Khan Development Network and such prestigious institutions as the Aga Khan Award for Architecture, the Aga Khan has become the leading private patron of architecture in the world. Interviews with more than fifty people closely associated with these efforts, and with the Aga Khan himself, allow this book to give the first overview of programmes and ideas that have benefited thousands of people across the world in the past fifty years.