What one Ottawa architect enjoys most about the Delegation of the Ismaili Imamat Building

A Canvas for Light

 “When the sun moves across the sky, the shadows dance along the building’s surfaces.”  Photo: Maki and Associates/Moriyama and Teshima Architects.

“When the sun moves across the sky, the shadows dance along the building’s surfaces.” Photo: Maki and Associates/Moriyama and Teshima Architects.

By Kristopher Benes 

As an architect I often get asked to name my favourite Ottawa building! Being a fan of minimalism I was often hard pressed to find anything non-residential that came immediately to my mind –- until that is, when the Ismaili Imamat Delegation building was completed in 2008.

Modern architecture often draws criticism for being too stark, extreme in its simplicity. However, it is its ability to highlight the world around us that I find to be so beautiful in modernism.

The clarity with which the play of shadows for instance may fall upon a crystal white surface allows architecture to behave as an ever-changing canvas, a reflector if one prefers, of what is going on all around. When the sun moves across the sky, the shadows dance along the building’s surfaces and when the sky takes on a different shade, the building glows in a completely different light.

"When the sky takes on a different shade, the building glows in a completely different light." Photo: © AKDN/Mo Govindji.

“When the sky takes on a different shade, the building glows in a completely different light.” Photo: © AKDN/Mo Govindji.

Light can be a wonderful paint brush for those blank walls; it does not need any more complexity than that. And obviously, Fumihiko Maki, the building’s design architect, understands light better than I ever could hope to (after all he has won a Pritzker Prize for his contributions and has enjoyed a career spanning some 50 years).

I think it is this understanding of light and an ability to shape it so beautifully which speaks to me most about the Ismaili Imamat Delegation Building.

Date posted: Tuesday, February 11, 2014.

Copyright: Kristopher Benes/Simerg.

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Kristopher Benes is a multi-disciplinary Ottawa based architect and principal of Open Plan Architects Inc.

3 thoughts on “What one Ottawa architect enjoys most about the Delegation of the Ismaili Imamat Building

  1. Your thoughts are commendable when art and nature join the hands. The spirit of nature has the power to make them dance and onlooker’s heart beat joins the rythm. Thanks and praise are for the creator of worlds and creatures .

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