Cambridge to Build Europe’s First Eco-Mosque

eco-mosque cambridge photo prayer hallArchitect Marks Barfield is to design a £13 million “eco” mosque on a 0.4 hectare brownfield site in Cambridge.

England’s historic city of Cambridge, with its world-famous university and idyllic countryside, will soon count a mosque amidst its stunning skyline of spires. But this isn’t just any old mosque. In fact it is the first-purpose built mosque in the city which also happens to be environmentally-friendly!

After years of dealing with overcrowding at various small sites across the city, the growing Muslim community decided that it was time to take action. By the summer of 2008, a strip of land and an old warehouse has been purchased and plans for the new mosque were underway. However rather than simply building a mosque as quickly as possible, it was decided from the very start that the mosque would follow environmental sustainability principles.

Europe’s first Eco-Mosque

“Islamic civilization has been based on the rejection of waste as an under-estimation of God’s blessing and so in the construction of the new mosque here in Cambridge, we were very much in the forefront of the local environmental movement in that we are using the latest heat pumps, conservation technology and green roofs so that we’ll have an almost zero carbon footprint,” commented Chairman of the Trust, Tim Winter who is also known as Abdul Hakim Murad.

Winters also added that they intended to build Europe’s first truly ecologically-responsible mosque and encourage Muslims world-wide to take up their environmental responsibilities.

It is stated in the Qur’an that God has made believers the stewards and protectors of the earth and so to harmonize this important environmental ethic with the most important place of worship in Islam makes perfect sense.

It is also hoped that such initiative will encourage Muslims in the Middle East to take an active interest in the environment and preserve precious resources both at home and in the mosque.

Designed by the award-winning architect Marks Barfield, who were behind stunning projects such as the London Eye and Kew Treetop Walkway, the mosque is based on the premise of creating an oasis of calm and sustainability in an urban jungle. Winter adds, “This building will be truly inclusive, sustainable, safe, secure and respectful of the neighbourhood.”

Back to the Eco Basics

Stunning skylights mean that the mosque will be naturally lit throughout the year, the building is well insulated and temperature will be carefully optimized by heating or cooling using energy efficient technologies and locally generated energy from ground source heat pumps.

The overall design will enlarge the existing community garden, create a new permeable green edge around the structure with trees as well as providing bicycle racks at street level and car parking in the basement. The £13 million project building, which will accommodate up to 1,000 men and women, will also include a cafe, a teaching area and meeting rooms for use by the local Muslim and non-Muslim communities.

“The new mosque will be a real neighbourhood as well as a spiritual centre, easily accessible by public transport and on foot, with facilities for formal and informal community group meetings as well as a leisure destination,” said Winters.

A reminder of the mosque’s humble roots

Whilst building an eco-Mosque may seem like a modern invention, it not only helps strengthen and demonstrate Islam’s eco principles but also takes Muslims back to the simpler and ecologically sound construction of the first mosque built for the prophet Muhammad (peace be upon him). Mud bricks were used for the walls, a palm trunk for the minbar as well as the pillars and waste was minimal- a humble reminder of the mosque’s true green roots.

Similar projects have been carried out in the UK such as a £3.5m partially eco-friendly mosque in Levenshulme, Manchester in 2008. It installed solar panels and was built using wood from renewable sources- however energy was not entirely from renewable sources and they outsourced some construction materials from India.

Read more on eco-Islam:
A Halal’s Day Work at the Community Garden
“Inspired by Muhammad” Is Islam’s Green Message to Break Terrorism
Prince Charles on Islam and the Environment
Water Conservation Values in Islam
The Muslim World Wants to Green Hajj
Breast Feed Baby in Hijab

About Arwa Aburawa

Arwa is a Muslim freelance writer who is interested in everything climate change related and how Islam can inspire more people to care for their planet and take active steps to save it while we can. She is endlessly suspicious of all politicians and their ceaseless meetings, especially as they make normal people believe that they are not part of the solution when they are the ONLY solution. Her Indian auntie is her model eco-warrier, and when Arwa is not busy helping out in the neighborhood alleyway garden, swap shopping or attempting fusion vegetarian dishes- with mixed success, she’d like to add- she can be found sipping on foraged nettle tea. You can find all of Arwa’s published work on her freelance site, and check out her musing on her blog. You can contact her @arwa_journalist or via arwa (at)

11 thoughts on “Cambridge to Build Europe’s First Eco-Mosque

  1. Emmett

    I’m sure it’s a typo, but near the end you refer to a mosque built by Mohammad having a ‘minibar’; presumably you meant ‘minbar’- perhaps the software auto-corrected it.

    In answer to Mick and Mickey- the majority of Muslim nations do not ban the building of Churches or forbid the practice of Christianity (though some, such as Saudi Arabia, do, and this should be recognized and, in my opinion, condemned), and though I’m not sure of all the funding, I do know that some of it is being covered through some sort of ‘buy a brick’ fundraiser.

  2. micky peterboro

    Can someone in the ‘know’ tell me where the £13 million is coming from to fund this monstrosity please

  3. mick romford

    its all well and good saying how wonderful this is, but do you think for one minute you would be allowed to build an eco friendly church in an islamic country

  4. James Murray-White

    interesting – thanks for this post Arwa. I grew up in Cambridge, and am back there every month or so to visit family, so will go and check it out……


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