LocationRiyadh Saudi Arabia
Text description provided by the architects. The spiritual center of the King Abdullah Petroleum Studies and Research Center (KAPSARC) community is a mosque within the linear park at the heart of the site. Highly visible throughout the community, the sanctuary is approached through outdoor courtyards aligned with Mecca and Al Kaaba, the most sacred places in Islam.
The prayer hall is set within a reflecting pool and reached from elevated glass bridges leading to its entrances. This procession represents the transition of leaving the profane world to enter the sacred realm. The reflecting pool glows at night, giving the illusion that the entire building is floating over water. To either side of the prayer hall, curving walls screen supporting functions, including ablution spaces and imam’s office.
The main prayer hall is designed as a 75-foot-square cube sheathed in a dynamic, layered skin. The outermost layer of glass is separated from an inner layer of stone-clad concrete by three feet. The 115-foot-tall minaret is designed to complement the mosque in its similar patterns of stone cladding and windows.
The exteriors of both structures are designed to represent an abstracted version of a traditional Arabic pattern and create an ever-changing experience of light and shadow. During the day, the play of shadows from the complex mullion patterns on the glass travel over the inner stone façade. Similar contrasts of light and shade animate the mosque interior over the course of a day.
At night, the glass box becomes a lantern in the landscape, punctuated with points of light. Custom, square pendants arranged in a grid pattern and suspended by cables illuminate the interior.
The main prayer hall accommodates 200 men, while a mezzanine level accommodates 100 women. Wrapping its walls and ceiling is a modern interpretation of an Arabic screen wall (mashrabiya) that glows with natural light from windows and skylights to brighten the modern space. Overlapping shapes enliven the walls, while the ceiling presents a more traditional design.