The site of the Ismaili Centre Dushanbe is located on Ismoili Somoni Avenue, named after the founder of the Samanid dynasty (early 10th century) and considered Tajikistan’s national hero.
The direction was to design a building that represented the great architectural traditions of this region, including its construction techniques, materials, and decorative motif. It is in this context that clay bricks, punctuated with blue and turquoise glazed bricks, have become the most distinctive visual aspect of the overall complex.
Inspired by some of the region’s most distinctive monuments, the architecture of the Ismaili Centre blends many different craft and artisanal traditions of Central Asia. Designed to facilitate cultural and intellectual exchange, the Centre aims to re-invigorate and promote the spirit of enquiry characterised by scholars whose contributions over the centuries were encouraged by the Ismaili Muslim community under the patronage of its leadership.
Located amidst gardens and waterfalls off a main thoroughfare in Dushanbe, the Centre in sandstone baked brick and glazed blue and turquoise tiles, acknowledges the vernaculars of the 10th century mausoleum of the Samanids as well as the grand courtyards of Samarkand, Bukhara and Khiva. Equipped to host exhibitions and conferences, concerts and recitals, the complex includes a resource centre, classrooms, multi-purpose spaces, courtyards and an amphitheatre. Technical innovations include an elastic roof diaphragm to transfer structural stress in this highly seismic region, a heating and air conditioning system based on water-source heat pumps used for the first time on this scale in the region, as well as a heat recovery wheel for energy efficiency.
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.