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June 28, 2018

The Aga Khan Centre, a unique building was inaugurated by Prince Charles in London

National

 
June 28, 2018

London: The Aga Khan Centre, a unique building, was opened by His Royal Highness The Prince of Wales at an inauguration ceremony hosted by His Highness the Aga Khan, in London. Among the guests were the Mayor of London, Sadiq Khan, and Foreign Office Minister for Human Rights, Lord Tariq Ahmad of Wimbledon.

The Aga Khan Centre (AKC) is a place for education, knowledge, cultural exchange and insight into Muslim civilisations. It is the new UK home for several education and development institutions founded by His Highness the Aga Khan including the Aga Khan University Institute for the Study of Muslim Civilisations (AKU ISMC), The Institute of Ismaili Studies (IIS), and the Aga Khan Foundation UK (AKF UK). Together the organisations work to bridge the gap in understanding about Muslim cultures and to connect the public to global development issues and the work of the Aga Khan Foundation.

Speaking at the opening ceremony, The Prince of Wales commented on the importance of understanding the intellectual and cultural contributions that Islamic civilisations have made to the world.

His Highness the Aga Khan expressed his strong expectation that “from this new home, these education-oriented institutions would contribute powerfully to building new bridges of understanding across the gulfs of ignorance.”

“One of the central challenges that faces our world today is the challenge of harmonizing many highly diversified voices within an increasingly globalized world,” His Highness the Aga Khan noted. “I use the word ’harmonizing‘ carefully - for our ideal here is not a chorus that sings in unison, but one that blends many distinctive voices into an intelligent, resonant whole. But to do that requires a deep understanding of what makes each voice distinctive. And that is the essential function of the educational endeavors that will make this place their home.”

AKC also houses the Aga Khan Library, London, which brings together the collections of the IIS and AKU-ISMC. Located over two floors, the library provides space for publications, areas for study and secure archival storage for rare books and manuscripts. The library collections include academic materials for teaching, research, comparative study and publications about Muslim civilisations, including a unique collection with a focus on Shia Islam and its Ismaili traditions.

The new 10,000 square metre building appears to ‘float’ with its cantilevered façade, hovering above glass walls at ground level. It re-arranges a traditional Islamic architectural format, of multiple spaces organised around ground level courtyards, to a vertical layout - placing a series of open learning and office spaces upwards around a central atrium. The building spans across 10 floors.

The building design, by world-renowned Japanese architect Fumihiko Maki, represents openness, dialogue and respect for diverse viewpoints.

Central to the building and across multiple floors is a series of terraces, gardens and courtyards. The Islamic Gardens at King’s Cross are inspired by the diversity of Muslim societies, drawing from regions ranging from North Africa and Spain to the Middle East, Persia and India. The beautiful spaces offer a series of contemporary, contemplative gardens which have been commissioned specifically to represent the diversity of the Muslim world, while jointly bringing a connected ‘ribbon’ of new green spaces to the developing King’s Cross area. These have been created by Maki and Associates as well as other leading garden designers, including Madison Cox and Nelson Byrd Woltz.****