30 Year Anniversary – The Ismaili Centre, London| A hub for spiritual, cultural, musical, intellectual and social events

In 1979, the foundation stone was laid for the first Ismaili Centre in South Kensington, London. The Centre was opened by the former British Prime Minister Margaret Thatcher and His Highness the Aga Khan in April 1985. This was a historic event which marked a new phase of the Ismaili presence in Europe. This April will celebrate the 30th anniversary of The Ismaili Centre, London.

In the years since the opening, tens of thousands of people have experienced the building not only through guided tours conducted by trained volunteers but also through the variety of events and talks held at the Centre.

The Ismaili Centre continues to grow as a hub for spiritual, cultural, musical, intellectual and social events.

The Ismaili Centre London, UK (Click Graphic to read and view more)

The Roof Garden by night showing the central fountain connected by radial channels to the four corner pools. Gary Otte

The Roof Garden by night showing the central fountain connected by radial channels to the four corner pools. Gary Otte

Mawlana Hazar Imam presided over the inauguration of the Ismaili Centre site at Cromwell Road, while Lord Soames performed the ceremony of foundation. Julian Calder

Mawlana Hazar Imam addresses the gathering at the Foundation Ceremony of the Ismaili Centre, London. Julian Calder

Mawlana Hazar Imam presided over the inauguration of the Ismaili Centre site at Cromwell Road,

Mawlana Hazar Imam presided over the inauguration of the Ismaili Centre site at Cromwell Road, while Lord Soames performed the ceremony of foundation. Julian Calder

Map of South Kensington and Ismaili Centre

Map of ismaili centre in london

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The Ismaili Centre, South Kensington

CHRISTOPHER LONG visits the Aga Khan’s religious and cultural centre for his 8,000 Ismaili followers in Britain.

Christopher Long

Christopher Long

If anything seems calculated to cause consternation among London’s population it’s the sudden appearance of a new building on the skyline. The reaction is hardly surprising. For 30 years we have had one monstrosity after another foisted upon us and almost always they have added insult to the injury of losing once-familiar, often affectionately-regarded streets, houses and public buildings.


Which is why the new Ismaili Centre in South Kensington can be greeted with relief, admiration and much pleasure.

The island of land between Thurloe Place and Cromwell Road, opposite the Victoria & Albert Museum, was a hideous eyesore for as long as many of us can remember. For years it was a derelict site, fit only for use as a car-hire depot behind tatty hoardings and a pre-fab office. And for years the authorities agonised over what would be an acceptable scheme for what was arguably the most prominent and prestigious plot of development land in West London.

It is almost ludicrous to remember that once, in the 1980s, it was thought that this 1,730 sq. m. site would make a suitable home for the National Theatre. One look at the building eventually put up on the South Bank – the acres of space it covers, the massive height and bulk of it and the parking space it needed to provide – shows how inadequate either the site or the theatre would have been if the plan had been executed in South Kensington. Yet it was some measure of the importance of the site, prominently visible on London’s main east-west thoroughfare and set in the heart of museum-land, that Bernard Shaw even got as far as laying the foundation stone there.

After that plan was dropped, there were the inevitable applications to build towering blocks of offices and shops that would have dwarfed the quiet, elegant Victorian charm of Thurloe Square and South Kensington as a whole.

Perhaps all along there had been some divine architectural destiny for the Thurloe Place site. When the Aga Khan first saw it as a potential location for a religious and cultural centre for his 8,000 Ismaili followers in Britain, it did not escape his attention that the triangular plot conveniently faces south-east not so much towards Knightsbridge as towards Mecca. But at the same time he was acutely aware that establishing the very first Ismaili centre in the Western world on such an important site as this was fraught with potential hazards.


How would Londoners react to a small, little-known and little-understood religious community taking over such a prestigious position at the centre of the institutional and cultural heart of Britain? Furthermore, what sort of building could possibly answer the needs of both the Ismailis and the English?


Fortunately, by the time the local authorities had granted planning permission, and
Lord Soames had laid the foundation stone in the presence of the Aga Khan in 1979, two important things happened in favour of the Ismailis.

Read more http://www.christopherlong.co.uk/pri/ismaili.html

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Wikipedia Org: Ismaili Centre, London

The Ismaili Centre, London is one of six such centres world-wide. Established in South Kensington more than thirty years ago, it is a religious, social and cultural meeting place for the Ismaili Muslim community in the United Kingdom and is the first such centre to be specially designed and built for Ismailis in the Western world.

Contents

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The Ismaili Centre, London

View of the Ismaili Centre, London from Exhibition Road.

View of the Ismaili Centre, London from Exhibition Road, with the Victoria and Albert Museum visible in the background.

Basic information

Location
Cromwell Gardens, South Kensington, London, UK

Geographic coordinates
51.4955°N 0.1731°WCoordinates: 51.4955°N 0.1731°W

Affiliation
Ismaili Muslim

Leadership
His Highness the Aga Khan

Website
http://www.theismaili.org/ismailicentre/london

Architectural description

Architect(s)
Casson Conder Partnership

Architectural type
Jamatkhana

Groundbreaking
6 September 1979

Completed
1985

Read full on http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Ismaili_Centre,_London

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