MEA explores five of the most striking contemporary mosque projects in Asia, Europe and the Middle East
Mosque for 2000 prayers
Location: Abu Dhabi
X-Architects’ design for a proposed mosque in Abu Dhabi incorporates an existing sculpture plaza. An abstract dome structure admits light through a geometric weave of arcs while a sculptural minaret forms the focal point for the complex. Two independent wings will host services on either side for men and women. The ablution space and prayer area are also separated from the rest of the complex by an arcade with a layer of Mashrabiya screens. A ‘poetic’ garden, which contains trees and a body of water symbolising paradise, will close the outer area. Water used by the ablution process in the mosque can be fed to the surrounding plants and trees through a drip irrigation system.
Haj House Complex Architect: AGi Architects Location: Lucknow, India Status: Proposal
Taking cues from traditional Islamic architecture and bazaars, AGi Architects’ design for an Islamic complex in Lucknow is guided by light and colour. According to the Kuwait and Spain-based architects, the 34,500m2 complex is inspired by Persian architecture as well as the Taj Mahal, and features a plaza illuminated by filtered light. The design plays on the contrast between the shadows in the exterior vaulted spaces (iwans) and the light that penetrates through the domes. Accessible to the public, the complex provides cultural, leisure and administrative facilities as well as an educational building.
King Abdulla Financial District Mosque Architect: FXFOWLE Location: KAFD, Riyadh, Saudi Arabia Status: Under construction
Nearing completion in Saudi’s ambitious King Abdullah Financial District (KAFD), FXFOWLE’s elegant mosque is based on a verse from the Quran which describes God placing his throne on a vast body of water before creating the world. The mosque’s façades are covered by screens of laser-cut aluminum patterned with abstract Islamic stars. Screens are supported by a steel diagrid, a diamond-shaped structural frame that is attached to the solid stone marble border. The entire building is clad in white marble while the external pool is lined with polished black marble. The concrete frame is now complete and the installation of the stone exterior façade is set to be finished by autumn this year. Project completion is scheduled for November 2012.
Islamic Cultural Centre and Mosque Architect: BIG Location: Tirana, Albania Status: Proposal
Denmark-based BIG won a competition to design an Islamic complex in the centre of Albania’s capital Tirana, which includes a mosque, Islamic centre and a museum of religious harmony. In order to create a flexible and open place of worship, the 27,000m2 complex contains a series of semi-covered plazas. By turning the mosque inside out, the shaded urban space can be shared by the public. The mosque can house up to 1,000 people for daily prayers but the wider complex can accommodate up to 10,000 worshippers on special holy days.
Dubai Mosque (Concept) Architect: Fariborz Hatam, Aedas Location: Dubai Status: Concept
The conceptual Dubai Mosque was Fariborz Hatam’s solution for a city that he believed to be moving away from true Islamic architecture. Designed without a brief or a client, the Aedas architect’s scheme was said to come “from the heart”. In Islamic architecture, the dome represents heaven; Hatam’s design extends the dome downwards to reach the ground, therefore “making heaven accessible to everyone”. Hatam also took a three-month course in calligraphy to fully understand how light would filter through the Arabic words on the walls of his building. Despite significant interest from would-be clients, Hatam’s signature mosque project remains unrealised.