In all religions, prayer halls and religious buildings aim to separate the visitor from the chaos of daily life and provide serenity and peace, even for the brief moment in time when visitors are performing their prayers. In the Turkish city of Şanlıurfa, BeOffice Architects designed a circular, unbound mosque with a focus on nature, tranquility, and accessibility.
The 750 m² structure is designed to be inviting and accessible to all. The architects removed the sharp edges and boundaries, and created a circular-shaped plan, with landscape, water features, and plenty of natural daylight. An open car parking space and bicycle stops surround the peripheries of the plot, allowing parking in the direction of the street.
The main function of a mosque is to serve as a place of worship for Muslims, alienating the visitors from the temptations and turmoil of daily life. To instigate the notion of tranquility, BeOffice surrounded the main structure with greenery, serving as a transitional zone from the chaotic city atmosphere to the complete seclusion of the mosque.
The functions around the mosque were taken as one of the main references during the design process. Knowing that there will be a diversity of functions and visitors outside and within the space, pedestrian circulation axes were determined by the existing topography. When all these pedestrian routes intersect, they reach the central courtyard and mosque area. Educational spaces are situated around the mosque, dedicated to teaching children of the Madrasah traditions. Study centers, halls, and course spaces are nestled between greenery, following the same design strategy of the mosque.
Rather than defining the mosque as a place of worship, it is to create an education-social center supported by different functions as a teaching of the madrasahs, to draw the urbanite here and to provide a state of solidarity. In this context, landscape design is developed with the motto is “using every value in place and as necessary, avoiding wastage which constitutes the basic philosophy of design.” BeOffice Architects
The visitor is greeted with a clear scenery of the sky, an abundance of trees, and water channels as soon as he/she enters the space. A water element is an important design feature in Islamic architecture, and is also the doctrine of the building tradition of the region. The reflective pool and water channels were designed in a way to direct visitors towards the place of worship.
Crushed local stone was used in the project and was collected from surrounding quarries. In the areas facing the courtyard, social units and a canteen area are placed for gatherings. A private hall is designed in the vicinity of the women's place of worship, used as a place for lectures, courses, and gatherings. All spaces are provided to receive as much light as the function requires and all are designed to provide natural ventilation.
Project Team: Süleyman Yıldız, Burcu Sevinç, Rıfat Yılmaz