Stone Pavilion Completes University of Alberta Gardens

Canadian AXIA Design Associates and Arriz + Co studios completed a wing and event space within the University of Alberta’s Botanic Gardens, the final step in the master plan.

The pavilion is called the Diwan and has been designed as a 4.8 hectare multi-purpose and event space in the Aga Khan Park.

The pavilion is known as the Diwan

The Toronto architecture studio explained, “The term diwan has various historical definitions, and here it refers to a space for meeting, cultural exchange, and celebration.” AXIA Design Associateswho worked with a colleague in a design studio in Toronto Arriz + Co about the project.

“In addition to providing versatile functions, the pavilion resonated with its rich surroundings and expanded the garden’s themes, a contemporary interpretation of Islamic landscape architecture in a Nordic climate and context,” AXIA said.

Pavilion by Axia Design Associates and Arriz + Co
AXIA Design Associates and Arriz + Co designed the project

The low, overhanging stone building has a deep protrusion on the front facade that faces the central axis of the garden.

The architectural design, said AXIA, “balances some of the symmetries of the Aga Khan Garden while adhering to others, balancing the garden’s formal context with the pavilion’s interior function.”

Central event space
The central event space occupies most of the ground floor

This basic suite has a covered area near the entrance to protect visitors from the elements.

There is a screening of the foyer and coats of arms, which in turn leads to the central event space. This open area occupies most of the ground floor.

wing floor
The team took cues from traditional Islamic design features

“The size of the space is large and the use of white oak floors and panels provides a sense of warmth and comfort,” the team said.

The team took cues from the traditional Islamic design features throughout the building. In many areas, patterned screens with intricate geometric motifs evoke the traditional mashrabiya – wooden blinds that filter daylight into the windows.

Screen Manoucheh
Embossed screens feature intricate geometric motifs

“The design, mass and choice of materials are those of a contemporary building that interprets traditional principles,” the team said.

In the main hall, a bright yellow ceiling feature is framed by suspended black panels to draw attention to the intricate patterns.

Throughout the symmetrical space, floor-to-ceiling windows provide views of the surrounding gardens.

On the roof there is a terrace with views of the gardens and university grounds in the warmer months.

Floor-to-ceiling windows in the suite
Floor-to-ceiling windows offer views of the surrounding gardens

The building also has a service on the ground floor, to accommodate catering for the various gatherings that will take place in the pavilion.

Like the gardens themselves, the divan was largely funded by a $25 million gift from the Aga Khan, the spiritual leader of the Ismaili Muslim community.

Other campus projects include Renovation of the 120-Year-Old Yale Student Center by RAMSA and A proposed addition to the École Polytechnique Fédérale de Lausanne by 3XN Architects and Itten-Brechbühl.

Photography by Michael Manchakovsky.

Project credits:

Design engineers: Axia Design Associates. Chris Wong, design engineer; Michael Good, Project Architect; Lesdanea Rinoso, Justin Husley, designers
Architectural and interior design: Ares+ Corporation (Toronto). Arez Husam, lead designer; Jason Le Choi, designer
Executive Architects: Xian Architecture, Interior Design and Planning (Edmonton). Aziz Butwala, Director; Aimee Kanji, Project Manager; Chad Kern, Job Captain
Mechanical and electrical engineering: Williams Engineering (Edmonton). Chad Mosselwhite, director; Alexey Kalinin, project manager
structural engineering: RJC (Toronto). John Koymans, Director; Matt Deegan, Project Manager
Landscape Architecture (Aga Khan Garden): Nelson Bird Waltz Landscape Architects

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