Architect Shahed Saleem is reimagining the British mosque after he was tasked by communities to design Muslim places of worship across the UK.
Mosques – which are mostly locally funded initiatives from congregations – rarely serve just as places of prayer, but also as community centres, food banks, and even gym spaces.
In 1990 there were about 400 mosques in Britain – now there are around 1,800.
“What I’m interested in is making buildings that could only happen in this place, in this time, with this culture that we have now,” Saleem said.
“Also, the buildings should be reflective [of] Britishness, and with that I mean us accepting, acknowledging, and taking on the fact we are a product of this country, of this place, and we can’t pretend that we’re not.”
Saleem, a senior research fellow at UCL’s Bartlett School of Architecture, is completing an ambitious project on Muslim architecture in Britain – charting the evolution from the earliest buildings in the late 19th century to mosques being designed today.
He added: “If we can use our architecture to explore the new identity, as it was forming, in this country it can be something useful – and more accurately represent our conditions in our [current] circumstances.”