Gibb lecture: Designing Transcendence: Light in Islamic Architecture


Thursday, April 5, 2018, 5:00pm to 7:00pm


CGIS South, Rm 020, 1730 Cambridge St, Cambridge, MA 02138

CMES is pleased to present the 2018 H.A.R. Gibb Arabic & Islamic Studies Lecture Series speaker

Nasser RabbatArches in the hall of lions, Alhambra
Aga Khan Professor and Director of the Aga Khan Program for Islamic Architecture, MIT

Please note the lecture's new time: 5:00-7:00 pm

Light has often been deployed as a transcendental element in Islamic architecture. For more than fifteen centuries, architects all over the Islamic World have developed design strategies to radiate, filter, refract, magnify, focus, conceal, and altogether mystify light. The impressive array of light architecture they have left still astonishes, stirs, and elates today. This talk will present some of the most outstanding examples of light architecture in Islamic history and examine their aesthetic, spatial, and environmental qualities as well as their symbolic and metaphysical connotations. Avoiding any essentialist standpoint, the talk will argue instead that light transcendence was designed for a variety of purposes ranging from the purely functional to the emotive, spiritual, and awe-inspiring depending on the context.

Note:  A link to Professor Rabbat's first lecture in this series, "The Historian and the City Between Ibn Khaldun and al-Maqrizi" (April 3), can be found here.

Image: Arches in the hall of lions, Alhambra, by Nasser Rabbat.

Contact: Liz Flanagan