Aga Khan Centre
Fumihiko Maki of Maki and Associates
- Original design
- Fumihiko Maki of Maki and Associates, 2018
The 2018 programme is now past. We will be launching the 2019 programme mid-August.
In 2018 the Aga Khan Development Network (AKDN) opened a signature architect-designed academic and office building to house the teaching, learning and administration spaces for The Institute of Ismaili Studies (IIS) and the Aga Khan University’s Institute for the Study of Muslim Civilisations (AKU-ISMC). It also houses the offices of the Aga Khan Foundation (UK).
The institutions located at the Aga Khan Centre, King’s Cross are all founded by His Highness the Aga Khan, AKDN’s Chairman and the 49th hereditary Imam of the Ismaili Muslims.
The AKDN works in 30 countries around the world. It employs approximately 80,000 people, the majority of whom are based in developing countries. Its main aim—consistent with its profile at King’s Cross—is to improve quality of life wherever AKDN is present. To that end, the mandates of its constituent agencies include education, the environment, health, architecture, culture, micro finance, rural development, disaster reduction, promotion of private-sector enterprise and revitalisation of historic cities. All AKDN agencies conduct their programmes without regard to faith, origin or gender.
Through research and publications, higher education and a public programme of lectures and exhibitions, the organisations located in the Aga Khan Centre will continue to serve as bridges in building understanding about Muslim cultures and societies.
The 10,000 m² building is designed primarily for an academic community, with spaces for students, scholars and staff to share ideas and work together alongside spaces that cater to their distinct needs for flexible teaching spaces, quiet research spaces and library space for study and for a secure archival storage for rare books and manuscripts.
Arranged over nine levels above ground plus two basement levels, the Aga Khan Centre is located at the centre of the King’s Cross development on a corner site facing Lewis Cubitt Park and Handyside Street. The shared learning, teaching and social spaces are located on the lower levels and institutional office space on the upper levels. A six-metre wide atrium brings light into the centre of the building and gives important visual connectivity between the different activities and building users. At the ground floor, the main entrance connects internally to a second entrance on the north side, with retail spaces on either side of this internal route. The top floor is a shared space for meetings and events.
The academic building has been designed as a simple, tripartite composition which arranges the building vertically into a base (for shared uses), piano nobile (for academic institutions) and ‘crown’ (for meeting and event areas and roof gardens), with the external materials articulating the internal spaces and expressing the uses within. The main body of the building is both articulated and monolithic. Large windows set flush into pale limestone, are whitened with an externally applied fritting, enhancing the singular and monolithic quality of the facade. The ground floor is fully glazed in contrast to upper floors. The top floor is an articulated roofscape, with a visually dominant glazed ‘crown’ forming the enclosure to the main function space.
Internally, there is a reduced and simple material palette that is enriched by the use of pattern and richer materials on the surfaces and the balustrading of the terraces.
Each roof garden, terrace and courtyard represents, through contemporary landscape design, a garden from a different region of the Muslim World. The collection of gardens within the Aga Khan Centre are conceptually connected to the gardens at Victoria Hall as a “ribbon pathway” of green spaces. Landscape designers include Maki and Associates, Madison Cox and Nelson Byrd Woltz.