The Ismaili Centre, Dushanbe harmonises in function and composition, multiple heritages. With an imposing scale that revives the memory of ancient cities of learning and enlightenment, the Centre is also a synthesis of fine detail and artisanal skill. In glass and wrought iron, in tile and fired brick, in textile and alabaster, in marble and wood inlay, human enterprise and ingenuity are celebrated alongside art and its expressions in thought, word and deed.
The Ismaili Centre’s design brief called for a synthesis between the ethics, values and traditions of faith, and the requirements of contemporary society. Revitalising historical memory while nourishing innovation, the design concept encouraged the use of indigenous materials, patterns, colours, textures and shapes, yet asked that its functionality and efficiency embody the aspirations of future generations.
Adaptation of technique and material to contemporaneous geography allowed the integration of old methodologies and new economic realities. Articulated brickwork inspired by the 10th century mausoleum of the Samanids combines with elaborate woodcarving, patterned tile and plasterwork. Reminiscent of the renowned cityscapes of Samarkand, Bukhara and Khiva, baked brick architecture and geometric volumes recall a patronage of learning and an aesthetic of refinement. The Centre’s design also acknowledges the styles of the 12th century Karakhanid Mausoleum at Uzgen and of the 14th century Khwaja Ahmad Yasavi Mausoleum in Turkestan.
The resource centre, classrooms, multi-purpose space and amphitheatre provide facilities for extra-curricular learning and leisure. By linking together pedagogic, interactional and inspirational spaces, the Centre seeks to build on inclusive sentiments that embody the essence of Islam’s message of peace and fraternity. Equipped to host exhibitions and conferences, concerts and recitals, the Ismaili Centre, Dushanbe enhances the city’s cultural, social and intellectual offering.
Much as the bequests to mankind of Central Asia’s scientists will find space for expression here, so too will the performances and craft traditions that its artists have integrated into a unifying ensemble of talent and imagination. Simultaneously redolent of ancient and modern, of nature and humanity, of the mystical and the evident, the complex that is the Ismaili Centre, Dushanbe, enables convergences between fresh perspectives and sound wisdom. Bringing together under skylights and in courtyards, by gardens and around pools, spaces for encounters, for reflection and for search, the Centre serves to facilitate equilibrium between din and dunya — faith and world.