The architecture of the future mosque was the subject of a special seminar organized by the “Abdullatif Al Fozan Award for Mosque Architecture” (AFAMA) and the “Library of Alexandria” last Wednesday, July 25th, 2018 in Alexandria, Egypt.
In addition to announcing the ongoing mosque nomination process for the AFAMA that will end in September 2018, the general secretariat presented the objectives of the award, and the three principal scientific projects of AFAMA: “the “Mosqupedia,” “AFAMA portal and database,” and “the award.” The seminar tackled different architectural issues about mosques of the future, from the architectural concept to architectural styles and typologies, and architectural decorations to techniques.
The first session of the seminar targeted the architectural concept of the future mosque. For instance, its intersections with different Islamic issues, how contemporary life could affect the architectural form, and whether the measured planned area of the mosque will be valid in the future. Furthermore, the new paradigm of mosque architecture was presented by Dr. Mashary Al Naim, the Secretary-General of the AFAMA. In the session, he confirmed to audiences that Islam does not oppose a new paradigm for mosque architecture, either in form or in materials. The session began with presenting the current classical architectural forms of mosques, later Dr. Al Naim confirmed the importance of liberating the architectural forms from its current dilemma of repeated forms, and presented a series of changes that will eventually help birth a new future of mosque architecture.
The second session of the seminar discussed the constant and mutable in Mosque architecture. For instance, the mosque must orientate towards Makkah “Al Qiblah,” while other elements are liable to change. For instance, architectural forms, techniques, and materials.
A primary example that was presented during the seminar was the “Vanishing Mosque” by Russel Greenburg in Dubai, UAE. The Vanishing Mosque is a sacred prayer space intricately woven into the fabric of a bustling city. Retail, cultural venues, apartments, hotels, and deeply shaded arcades define the edges of its plaza. However, the plaza is exclusively used for worship during prayer times. During the rest of the day and evening, it is open to the public as a social space for lounging, meeting, and chance interaction. The Vanishing Mosque is meant to be experienced from a human vantage point at a human scale, it has no doors or walls, and it is open to anyone at any time, blending into the streets and the pulse of daily life. The architect respected the Quran verses and sought to insert the delicate traditions of Islam into the urban space. The structure fosters a sense of shared identity and helps people fall in love with their communities.
Furthermore, the seminar discussed contemporary architectural typology, ideation, and different modern technologies that could be incorporated into the future architectural design of the mosque: such as digital audiovisual devices, water, energy-saving materials, and digital architectural solutions.
Based on those issues, the seminar commenced with a joint plan between the “Abdullatif Al Fozan Award for Mosque Architecture” and the “Library of Alexandria” to sponsor architectural research that focuses on the architecture of the mosque, as well as efforts to spread the award internationally, encouraging more submissions for future mosques in majority Muslim populations.