Last month, illuminate was delighted to host a lecture by Professor Behrens-Abouseif (Emeritus Professor, SOAS University of London) on the history, forms, and features of Islamic architecture for a group of sixth form students from ARK Academies.
illuminate – an initiative of the Aga Khan Foundation UK – welcomed school students and teachers from ARK Walworth Academy to the Aga Khan Centre for an afternoon of learning, opportunities for discussion, and a tour of the Centre, an example of contemporary Islamic architecture in London.
illuminate offers aspiring students an insight into transformational ideas that are shaping the world today. The initiative aims to broaden horizons, inspire a new generation of change-makers, and explore how students can contribute toward a better world. Earlier this year, illuminate welcomed students to take part in a multi-media essay competition for which they could either enter a short essay, video blog or piece of art to portray, depict and answer questions on the climate crisis.
This year, illuminate broadened its offering to students, beyond the annual competition, with a fascinating lecture on Islamic architecture. The students were taken on a journey through the Byzantine Empire, from Arabia to Spain, Egypt to Istanbul, and Persia to Agra.
Professor Behrens-Abouseif showcased jewels of world architecture such as The Dome of the Rock (Jerusalem), Umayyad Mosque (Damascus), Alhambra (Granada, Spain), Great Mosque of Cordoba (Spain), Taj Mahal (India), Al-Azhar Mosque (Cairo), Great Mosque of Bukhara (Uzbekistan), Masjid-I Shah (Isfahan, Iran), and Suleymaniye Mosque (Istanbul).
After journeying through historical examples of Islamic architecture, the students in attendance had the opportunity to explore the Aga Khan Centre – a building influenced by Islamic architectural history using a small array of timeless materials. Designed by Fumihiko Maki, one of Japan’s most distinguished contemporary architects, the Centre represents a unique take on Islamic design, incorporating influences from Morocco, Egypt, Iran, as well as the grand Portland stone buildings across London. During their tour, the students walked through the building’s Islamic gardens and courtyards, taking in views of the city from the higher terraces.
Following an afternoon of interactive learning, illuminate hopes the students left inspired to take what they have learnt and apply it to their studies, and potentially to future careers that may change the world for the better.
Photos by Shellina Karmali