Barcelona-based ZEST Architecture shared with us their proposal for the Dubai Mosque Competition organized by Via Traffic. The mosque, called Ray of Light, has a groundbreaking concept allowing equal access to the prayer room for men and women with a metaphysical separation by means of light. See more images and architect’s description after the break.
With the Ray of Light Mosque, ZEST architecture has sought to design a modern mosque where men and women can pray together in one space, while respecting the need for a certain degree of separation. The prayer hall has a flowing dome-like geometry which is separated into two halves by a strip of glass (the “Ray of Light”), through which sunlight streams in to form a metaphysical separation between the sexes. At night this effect is achieved with artificial lighting. One half of the dome folds upwards to form an integrated minaret.
The mosque is entered via a gently rising ramp leading past the ablution areas towards the main stairs and culminating visually in the “Ray of Light”. The entrances to other functions of the building have been placed on the other sides so as not to disturb this purifying path.
The plan of the prayer hall is rotated 45 degrees, with the entire shape pointing towards the Kaaba, whereby female believers are situated behind male believers, following the custom of the first (open air) mosques.
The prayer hall rises up above a partly underground building which houses the ablution areas, the library and a community centre grouped around a cooling patio. To bring additional light to the underground areas, ZEST designed a pattern of roof lights inspired by Islamic motifs which lights up at night like a jewel, thanks to the use of LEDs. The entire building has been designed to minimize energy use. The shape of the dome (made of heavily insulated white coated ferro-cement) provides maximum daytime reflection of sunlight and maximum nighttime cooling, while the strip of glass between the two halves has operable windows in order to allow cross ventilation.