By Natasha Gan
The Aga Khan, a spiritual leader of the globe’s Nizari Ismailis and notable horse breeder, bought a property by one of the major highways of Toronto and established what became the city’s latest architectural wonders: the Aga Khan Museum and the Ismaili Centre.
The Aga Khan Museum, opened in September 2014, stands out with its stark white Brazilian granite façade and dramatic geometric shape. Its designer is the 87-year-old, Pritzker Prize-winner architect Fumihiko Maki, who also designed the new 4 WTC in New York. The sophisticated landscaping, done by Vladimir Djurovic, was inspired by Persian Islamic gardens.
Reflective black-stone pools sit across from the museum’s entrance, so perfectly leveled they look like black platforms rising from the ground. They juxtapose the predominantly white exterior and contribute to the airiness and serenity vibe normally found in Japanese architecture.
The museum’s interior carries the same contemporary feel. The heart of the 10,500 sqm edifice is an inviting open-air courtyard confined within patterned glass walls that cast an artistic shadow on the walls when the sun is shining. Inside, the Aga Khan Museum houses a collection of art and artefacts relating to the traditions of Muslim communities.
Though quite a way from Toronto’s core downtown, the Aga Khan museum intrigues visitors, especially the design-enthusiasts and those interested in exploring the art, culture and traditions of ancient and contemporary Islamic civilizations.
Photo by Aga Khan/Janet Kimber