The Fumihiko Maki-designed Aga Khan Museum opens to the public this week in Toronto, Canada. The stunning museum is dedicated to the artistic, intellectual and scientific contributions that Muslim civilizations have made to world heritage. The gorgeous, white granite clad building makes effective use of natural light, shadow and pattern as the angular features of the building's exterior are echoed by the etched windows referencing traditional mashrabiya screens.
Maki and Associates state: “The Museum has been designed as a celebration of light and the mysteries of its various qualities and effects. Utilizing a series of natural materials with differing light reflecting properties, the building will act as an ever-changing canvas for the display and accentuation of light. In this regard, the building has been envisioned as a kind of precious stone, which can exhibit reflectivity, color variations, translucency, and a visual mystery.” This is achieved by hexagonal-shaped, light-diffusing skylights and the insertion of a double-height courtyard in the center of the building, which bounces light and ever-changing pattern deep into the interior of the building. Gallery spaces will occupy the ground and first floors, and the Museum also houses an auditorium, educational facilities, a restaurant and a multimedia library.
The Museum has been built as a permanent home for the Aga Khan Collection, which comprises over 1,000 artworks and artifacts dating back over 10 centuries. Of the motivation for building the Museum His Highness the Aga Khan stated: “One of the lessons we have learned in recent years is that the world of Islam and the Western world need to work together much more effectively at building mutual understanding – especially as these cultures interact and intermingle more actively. We hope that this museum will contribute to a better understanding of the peoples of Islam in all of their religious, ethnic, linguistic and social diversity.”
Designed by Fumihiko Maki, with Toronto-based Moriyama & Teshima Architects as the architects of record, the $300 million, 11,600-square-foot Museum shares a 6.8-hectare (17-acre) site with the Ismaili Centre, designed by architect Charles Correa. The surrounding landscaped park, designed by landscape architect Vladimir Djurovic, showcases eastern-influenced formal gardens, five reflecting pools and over two kilometers of walking trails, which are open to the public.
Photos by via the Aga Khan Museum