The power of five

Sian
25 Nov 2011

Moshe Safdie's Khalsa Heritage Centre opens today in Anandpur Sahib


Today the Honorable Chief Minister of Punjab, Sardar Parkash Singh Badal will officially dedicate Moshe Safdie’s latest completed building - the Khalsa Heritage Centre (KHC) in Anandpur Sahib - to the nation. A medley of sharply curving roofs and bowed exterior walls, the impressive form responds sensitively to its surrounding landscape and neighbouring architecture.

The KHC is an important new addition to this holy city; a museum of the Sikh people, it provides an enlightening history of the religion made even more prominent by the 300th anniversary of the Khalsa scriptures (written by the founder of the modern Sikh faith, Gobind Singh).

Its facades are clad in local sandstone which contrasts dramatically with the glinting steel of the roofs which in turn provide a ‘counterpoint to the rich tradition of gold domes that crown sacred Sikh buildings such as the Golden Temple in Amritsar’. This contrast is also an allusion to the symbolic themes of earth and sky, mass and lightness, and depth and ascension. The tower-like galleries are placed in groups of five in a subtle reference to the Five Virtues of the Sikh religion.

Internally the facility incorporates a number of exhibition galleries, a multi-level library organised around a grand reading room, storage for rare archival materials, and a 400-capacity auditorium. Outside, visitors will find reflective water gardens for quiet contemplation spreading across seven acres and centred on a 540ft bridge.

Safdie drew on his previous design experience in India for this scheme having completed a former project on Louis Kahn’s Indian Institute of Management School in Ahmedabad, this time working with Associate Architect Ashok Dhawan and Exhibition Designer Amardeep Behl.

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