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BrKhalid
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« on: Jul 18, 2010 08:41 AM »


Asalaamu Alaikum bro

I’m sure Br UBAB would be interested in this article bro

It is good to see designs for masaajid changing to reflect practical use and the environment.



Eco-mosques and greener domes


Growing up in Britain during the early waves of Muslim immigration, the mosques that I visited as a child were of two types. The first were ephemeral, ad hoc locations – hired halls, school rooms or community centres that functioned as mosques only during the time they were populated by Muslims. The second were permanent structures converted from old town halls, schools or even churches, and now dedicated solely to their new function as a mosque.


What baffled me most, even as a child, was the crowning of these latter buildings with a little green dome, a homage to the iconic dome of the Prophet’s mosque in Medina, painted deep green. I understand why it was done – a symbolic marking of the building’s new life as a Muslim centre and a replica of the traditional typology of a mosque with dome and minaret. But was it necessary, I wondered. Why did these historic buildings often need to have such incongruous aesthetics that jarred with their surroundings?


It seems that I was not alone in my thoughts and that mosques around the world are starting to think that the relationship of a mosque to its surroundings is about more than just transposing and replicating historic architecture.


This week, the city of Cambridge announced the design of a £13 million (Dh34m) “eco” mosque to be built on environmentally sustainable principles. Tim Winter, the chairman of the trust behind the development, who is also known as Abdul Hakim Murad, said: "We are using the latest heat pumps, conservation technology and green roofs so that we’ll have an almost zero carbon footprin. It is stated in the Quran that God has made believers the stewards and protectors of the Earth and so to harmonise this important environmental ethic with the most important place of worship in Islam makes perfect sense.”


is certainly part of a growing global Muslim movement towards eco-friendly living. The movement echoes the very principles on which the mosque in Medina was first built using local materials – stone foundations, mud bricks for the walls, and palm trunks for the pulpit and the columns.


In Abu Dhabi, students of the school of architecture at the American University of Sharjah have created a sustainable template for “mosques of the future in the UAE”. It takes no electricity from the grid. Instead, it incorporates solar panels, wind towers, geothermal cooling, shading devices, wind turbines and natural ventilation.

Dr Ahmed Mokhtar, associate professor of architecture at the school, said: “I wanted my students to understand that architectural design can significantly impact the resource consumption of a building. I also wanted them to see how energy-saving strategies as generators can be used in innovative architectural forms."

Dr Mokhtar said the students analysed Abu Dhabi’s weather data using computer software and decided on appropriate design strategies that fitted the two seasons of the city: winter with cool to temperate conditions, and summer with hot and humid conditions. The strategies included large openings that encourage natural ventilation during the winter season, as well as the use of the minaret for wind capture. Roofs would be built to maximise the use of solar energy with solar panels that run absorption chillers during the summer.




In a region known more for the flamboyance of its mosques – the construction costs of Abu Dhabi’s magnificent Sheikh Zayed Mosque is estimated at more than US$500 million (Dh1,800m) – this focus on resource management and sustainability reflects a change of ethos.

In Singapore, the country’s first eco-friendly mosque was built in May last year with energy-saving solar tubes that are also skylights, a garden rooftop and motion-sensor lights, earning it the Green Mark certification from Singapore’s Building and Construction Authority. One complaint often made about mosque cloakrooms, where worshippers carry out their ablutions, is the amount of water that goes to waste. This mosque has taps fitted with regulating devices that provide a much lower flow.


Interestingly, neither the template produced by the Abu Dhabi students, nor the mosque in Singapore feature domes in their design.

It is worth noting that the Singapore mosque also features family-oriented spaces, including child-friendly lavatories, a reading and play area as well as a function hall. Such community and pastoral features are increasingly common in mosques that realise that maintaining a strong relationship between the edifice and its congregation is essential to the core function of the mosque.


Like the move towards mosques that are more in tune with their natural environment, more and more mosques are considering their relationship with their urban environment – its people.

Abdul Lateef Whiteman, a British Muslim architect with a rigorous modernist training, says that it was in North Africa that he first experienced the notion of “building as sanctuary a place offering refuge and a stillness”. He seemed particularly drawn to natural materials such as adobe, which confer what in his mind is an important benefit on a communal building – it has to be regularly maintained by the members of the community, quite literally investing themselves in the building. He is right – this community involvement is critical, for it is the people and their intention that make the space sacred.


A faith building ought not to be about imposing power, but rather about fostering inclusivity; and that can mean inclusivity in the creation and maintenance of the building, as well as the worship that occurs within its walls. For me, it is these relationships between the individual and the congregation, and the people and the building, that must be at the heart of any successful modern mosque design. Eco-friendliness is just one component of the relationship between the mosque and its surroundings. As for the trend for epic grand mosques – and it is undeniable that the design must inspire the worshipper towards the sublime – it cannot be so aloof as to exclude. Its design, construction and pastoral services have to flourish from the worshippers themselves if they are to have meaning and be long-lasting.


The mosque must be geographically close to the worshipper so its artistry and design can fulfil its objective of constantly inspiring the worshipper. It must also create intimacy with the worshipper so that the worshipper can at once feel part of the congregation, but also feel like a unique individual. Most importantly, individuals must recognise something of themselves in the design. That is why mosques that reflect the local cultures are so powerful.


When I travelled to China, where the first mosque was built around the 7th century, the most unexpected thing is that the architecture has a strong resemblance to Chinese temples, with successive courtyards, gardens and the prayer halls in the shape of pagodas. That in itself is inspiring, because it reflects the diversity of creation and grounds the building into the community.

It is definitely an important point that the construction of the mosque be environmentally sustainable. However, what needs constant investment and nurturing in order to ensure its long-term sustainability is the community itself. If a house of worship has no worshippers – no matter how eco-friendly, with no matter how many domes or minarets – it is nothing but a beautiful edifice haunted by a community that either was, or could have been.


Shelina Zahra Janmohamed is the author of Love In A Headscarf, and writes a blog at www.spirit21.co.uk

http://www.thenational.ae/apps/pbcs.dll/article?AID=/20100717/WEEKENDER/707169854&SearchID=73397141368781

Say: "O ye my servants who believe! Fear your Lord, good is (the reward) for those who do good in this world. Spacious is God's earth! those who patiently persevere will truly receive a reward without measure!" [39:10]
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« Reply #1 on: Jul 18, 2010 10:33 AM »

Wa-alaikum-as-salam,

BrKhalid, I am deeply touched by your considerations, you are right... it's the first article I read Smiley ... as I have been away from the Madinat for a while...

We need to rethink the way we build masjids in the west and in the north. It doesn't make sense to copy middle eastern or even south asian designs in North America or Europe - simple put, the high ceilings and domes of these places are beautiful but serve as function of displacing heat in the hot arabian and indian summers.  In a north american setting, where the interior of buildings are conditioned through out the year (heated in winter, cooled in summer), this design is completely unneccessary - the heating providing in winter rises to the top of the dome while the people who come for fajr freezes, similarly in summer, the enormous amount of interior space that has to be cooled creates an unstainable electrical bill ... then on top of that... since most masjid have ladies on the second floor, they bear the brunt of the flawed design and engineering... overheating in both seasons, with a dash of humidiy and muggy-ness.

I can go on and on but rather would like to be useful and not just rank - so I will take this away to show the current masjid and school teams I am working with this articles, inshallah.... Thank you for posting this BrKhalid...


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« Reply #2 on: Jul 18, 2010 11:48 AM »

Asalaamu Alaikum bro

No worries, Br UBAB, inshaAllah some of these ‘greener’ principles can be incorporated in designs which are already out there.  bro



Quote
…community involvement is critical, for it is the people and their intention that make the space sacred


Everything has an outward and inward component and it is too often the case that we focus on the exterior of a building without giving the interior component its fair due.

A concept which could be equally applied to many things beyond just a masjid.

Say: "O ye my servants who believe! Fear your Lord, good is (the reward) for those who do good in this world. Spacious is God's earth! those who patiently persevere will truly receive a reward without measure!" [39:10]
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« Reply #3 on: Jul 28, 2010 01:40 PM »

Asalaamu Alaikum bro


The link below showcases a NY based design studio’s winning  idea for a ‘vanishing mosque’.


If you’re like me, you may have to look at the picture a few times before you work out where the prayer space actually is!! bro



http://www.designboom.com/weblog/cat/9/view/10868/rux-the-vanishing-mosque.html

Say: "O ye my servants who believe! Fear your Lord, good is (the reward) for those who do good in this world. Spacious is God's earth! those who patiently persevere will truly receive a reward without measure!" [39:10]
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« Reply #4 on: Jul 28, 2010 02:58 PM »

BrKhalid,
That was a nice design; however, there are couple of things that I found a bit impractical.

1. There is no shade and protection from the elements. This is to be situated in the desert, so these are practical considerations  to be taken care of.
2. There is a general lack of privacy. I'm all for praying anywhere, the whole world is a musallah.. but many people are shy of praying openly. Yesterday, while I was praying on the side of the bike path, this lady biking by started freaking out 'oh my god, are you ok? are you ok?' ... apparently when you are in sujood, you look like you are doubling up in pain to those unfamiliar with the salat.
3. The idea of the 'vanishing background' is an honoured part of the tradition of Islamic architecture. There are innumerable instances of calligraphy and girih tiles that are designed to essentially fade into nothingness in the background.

Pros:
1. I liked the idea of the unobtrusive wudu area, but thought it was a bit of a drowning risk (especially for young kids).
2. No HVAC costs; so totally green, as environmentally friendly as a mat out in the floor in the desert :-)
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« Reply #5 on: Jul 29, 2010 05:10 PM »

Did you see the following design?

http://www.designboom.com/weblog/cat/9/view/10883/mantle-mosque-in-uae.html


 thobebro
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