Creation of a Contemporary Islamic Garden in Alberta, Canada: A Case Study

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What happens when a Canadian botanic garden receives a $25 million gift of an Islamic garden from His Highness the Aga Khan? After a decade of planning, design and construction, a spectacular garden - unlike any in North America - will open in 2018 in Edmonton, Alberta. How did this happen? How do landscape architects respect history and traditions, while also ensuring their design is forward thinking? Conceived as a collaboration between the Aga Khan Trust for Culture, University of Alberta, and Nelson Byrd Woltz Landscape Architects, the resulting design transplants elements of historic Islamic garden design into a Zone 3 climate, 400 miles north of the Canada/US border. In addition to being a beautiful destination for visitors and lovers of architecture, the 11.8 acre Aga Khan Garden Alberta (AKGA) will also feature a wetland reclamation area with plants that can be studied and used in landscapes affected by oil sands industry. The AKGA is intended to be a place to connect with nature, a place of inspiration and learning, and a place where cultural understanding will grow.
Anaheim, CA
Distance Learning
Course Equivalency
Sustainable Development & Design
Health, Safety and Welfare
Learning Outcomes
Attendees will learn 1) how to collaborate with external organizations and institutions in your community to design a landscape in ways that respect culture, history, and tradition, while still being forward thinking, 2) how to design and feature a wetland reclamation area with plants that can be studied and also offset harmful development/extraction practices, 3) the process that has resulted in a contemporary garden that responds to the social and environmental needs of a community , 4) designing with historical and cultural elements that inspire connections to nature and enhance cultural understanding.
1) Ruby Swanson has been the General Manager of the University of Alberta Botanic Garden (UABG) since 2008 and has been involved in the Aga Khan Garden project since day one. Established in 1959, the UABG is a 240 acre public garden situated at the interse
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American Public Gardens Association

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