There is now one more reason to get yourself to the University of Alberta’s Botanic Garden. On Wednesday, the botanic garden, about 15 minutes southwest of the city, unveiled a bright and open meeting space called the Diwan Pavilion.
The $5.5 million pavilion adjoins and completes the Aga Khan Garden, which opened in 2018. It will help the botanic garden provide programming in the winter, since there will be a warm space and washrooms available, and will be available for rental.
“The garden is already a destination for weddings and events,” says the university’s vice-president of facilities, Andrew Sharman, “but we wanted to stretch the season to 12 months.”
The pavilion is humble. Its composite facade blends with the granite of the Aga Khan Garden and its geometric patterns echo those found in the garden. Floor-to-ceiling glass walls allow you to see through the building and into the woods behind it. “We were looking for a seamless addition to the garden and the thing that would really complete it without distracting from it, without feeling out of place,” says architect Taymoore Balbaa of Axia Design, one of two Toronto firms that worked on the project with Edmonton’s Kasian Architecture. The pavilion is meant to symbolize the hope, peace and unity that comes when people – even people of very different cultures – interact in the beauty of nature.
“The building resonates with the same spirit,” Balbaa says. “We wanted the building to feel like it was integrated with the original layout and idea and vision the designers had for the garden.”