The Delegation of the Ismaili Imamat, completed in 2008, is a secular facility that establishes a formal and symbolic presence for Prince Karim Aga Khan IV, spiritual leader of the world’s 15 million Ismaili Muslims, and his institutions in Canada.
The building is located on one of the most prominent sites along the Ottawa River called “Confederation Boulevard” where many government buildings and embassies are located.
The long rectangular building contains two symbolic spaces within to offer sanctuary for the visitors.
One of the symbolic spaces is the landscaped courtyard. This exterior space is a recollection of the traditional Persian-Islamic garden, Chahr-bagh.
The other symbolic space – a glass atrium that prominently rises from the center of the building, like a giant gemstone. The facility can host events for the local community beneath this polygonal roof.
The interior of the atrium is clad in Canadian maple layered by the cast aluminum lattice screens. The geometric pattern of the screen was inspired by Jali – perforated stone or latticed screens that appear throughout traditional Islamic and Indian architecture.
The space is shaded by panels of triangulated glass fiber fabric suspended next to the glass.
The galleries are filled with soft sunlight filtered through the ornate aluminum screens and faceted fabric shades, evoking qualities in the Middle East.
Fumihiko Maki’s recent projects, including the Delegation of the Ismaili Imamat and MIT Media Lab Complex are featured in our A+U July, 2012 Special Issue : “Power of Space – Fumihiko Maki’s Recent Works 2007 - 2015”.