The client wanted to build a small mosque to serve his neighborhood on rectangular land plot of about 900 msq. It has a total built up area of about 950 sqm. The domed high ceiling praying space occupies about 350 sqm. A mezzanine dedicated to women tops the main entrance of the mosque and overlooks the main space. The ablution area, the mosque’s imam and servant, the women’s entrance and the minaret’s tower, totaling an area of about 600 msq, wrap the main prayer hall from the north and the north east.
The conceptual challenge was to design a religious space combining, from one hand, the historical, cultural and traditional iconic components of a Hegazi/Memluk mosque, and on the other hand, modern contemporary elements, innovative twists, design solutions and ideas enhancing the overall spiritual and symbolic experience inside and outside the mosque.
From the outside, the eyes and minds of passersby will be able to track that spiraling dark marble envelop with God’s name carvings that surges from the mundane earth rising up towards the divine skies, wrapping the building clear stony masses, twisting and fusing with tall minaret pointing towards the all mighty. The marriage between that dynamic climbing rising modern envelop and those solid mute masses could be seen as unifying between many conflicting material and moral notions of our metamorphosing Muslim Arab contemporary existence: the earthly functions with the heavenly aspirations, the mundane life with the spiritual vision, the limited human existence with the extended transcendental eternity, the wisdom of tradition and the ambition of progress, the static unchanging history and the dynamic jumping future, etc….
The traditional Memluk style formal transformation connecting the ground to the sky, starting with a four pillared square, transforming into an octagonal ring, and ending with the top point of a dome resting on a short cylinder was reproduced to cover the central prayer hall. This conventional iconic roofing strategy, once erected using bearing walls techniques, was modernized and complemented by the addition of modern clear-storey lighting in between the contemporary concrete structural elements. Regarding the two side naves, an inclined roof opening up towards the quibla direction brings in another dimension to the prayer experience. The person enters the mosque through a conventionally twisted double-heighted porch adjusting the building’s orientation from the street alignment towards Mecca. Once he steps inside, his eyes are hit with a flood of soft lifting natural light washing the space and its users penetrating through the almost inexistent east façade. The slope of the roof opens up towards The Quibla, trying to catch more of that cleansing light coming straight for mecca. Praying facing that brightly lit transparent façade extends the spiritual experience into a heavenly celestial garden occupying the vast space behind it. The transparent façade and the open lush courtyard that backs it suggest the elimination of any remaining physical barriers standing between the believers and God. It unites the congregation inside the mosque with the thousands praying every moment around the Qa’ba.Location: Jeddah, Saudi Arabia
Architect: Abiat Architects
WAF Entry: 2011