An Afternoon at Delegation of the Ismaili Imamat
The Delegation of the Ismaili Imamat is the embassy in Canada for the Aga Khan, the leader of Nizari Muslims, where his office can receive dignitaries in the country. The building itself was built in 2008 and designed by renown Japanese architect Fumihiko Maki, who has worked on several other Aga Khan related buildings around the world, notably the Aga Khan Museum in Toronto.
The focal point of the building is the large atrium topped with a large glass structure inspired by quartz crystals. The structure of irregular shapes is found on the ceiling and the south side of the atrium, where it diffuses of the harsh sunlight of summer days.
An aluminium privacy screen surrounds the atrium on all four sides and its pattern is reflected in the glass fibre structure on the ceiling. Interestingly, the shadows cast onto the floor add another layer of octagonal patterns in the atrium, but this time in a much less permanent or regular way. The privacy screen is directly inspired by traditional Islamic architecture, where the jali (from the Hindi word for “net”) is a common feature of buildings.
Adjacent to the atrium is a modern interpretation of the traditional char bagh garden found in Islamic landscapes across Southern and Central Asia. This char bagh is adapted to the Canadian environment with boxwood hedges, Japanese lilac trees, and flowering ground cover that provide a beautiful retreat throughout the seasons. The garden serves as a year-round sanctuary which is believed to be a source of positive energy and change.
The walls of the southern corridor, which spans the length of the courtyard, are finished in a Venetian plastering technique. The texture of the plaster interacts with light pouring in from the garden in a way that gives the corridor an accentuated sense of height.