The Aga Khan Development Network has officially opened a Muslim education hub at King’s Cross, London.
Known as the Aga Khan Centre (AKC), the building’s inauguration took place on Tuesday led by The Prince of Wales who was accompanied by His Highness the Aga Khan, alongside the Mayor of London, Sadiq Khan and Foreign Office Minister for Human Rights, Lord Tariq Ahmad of Wimbledon.
The building will host several organisations founded by the Aga Khan, including The Institute of Ismaili Studies (IIS), the Aga Khan University Institute for the Study of Muslim Civilisations (AKU-ISMC), and the Aga Khan Foundation UK (AKF UK).
These organisations aim at collaborating to enhance understanding about Muslim cultures and to inform the public about global development issues and the mandate of the Aga Khan Foundation.
The inauguration was part of events by the Aga Khan during his visit to the UK as a guest of the Queen’s government as he marks his Diamond Jubilee of his role as Imam of the global Shia Ismaili Muslim community.
Speaking at the ceremony, Prince Charles stressed on the importance of understanding the intellectual and cultural contributions that Islamic civilisations have made to the world.
On his part, the Aga Khan challenged the institutions hosted at AKC to contribute largely in “building new bridges of understanding across the gulfs of ignorance”.
“One of the central challenges that faces our world today is the challenge of harmonising many highly diversified voices within an increasingly globalised world, and that is the essential function of the educational endeavours that will make this place their home,” he said.
He was accompanied at the inauguration by members of his family including his brother Prince Amyn Aga Khan, his daughter Princess Zahra, his son Prince Rahim with his wife Princess Salwa, and sons Prince Hussain and Prince Aly Muhammad.
London has been home for the educational and international development institutions now housed at AKC for 40 years, whereby the IIS and AKU-ISMC work alongside leading UK universities and are active members of London’s Knowledge Quarter.
The design of AKC is influenced by Islamic architectural heritage and it spans across 10 floors.
Beginning September, AKC will run a public programme of lectures and exhibitions, and members of the public will have opportunities to visit the Islamic Gardens at King’s Cross housed in the building as part of regular scheduled tours.
The Centre joins the Ismaili Centre in London as an ambassadorial building of the Aga Khan Development Network and the institutions of the Ismaili Imamat in the United Kingdom.
The Ismaili Centre, located in South Kensington in London’s Cultural Quarter, will continue to bring people together around arts, culture, and thoughtful debate as part of its ongoing programmes serving the Ismaili community, its neighbours and friends in the London area.
The new 10,000m2 building appears to ‘float’ with its cantilevered façade, hovering above glass walls at ground level.
It re-arranges a traditional Islamic architectural format, of multiple spaces organised around ground level courtyards, to a vertical layout — placing a series of open learning and office spaces upwards around a central atrium.
The building is the third by Maki and Associates that His Highness has commissioned.