Green Prophet loves to cover where eco meets faith and the Middle East. Zaufishan puts together a handy list of five of the world’s most beautiful eco-mosques.
Albania’s Mosque for All
Albania’s “Mosque For All” pictured above and below and designed by BIG features an inside-outdoor shaded Islamic centre, promoting religious harmony through Quran Gardens and a unique intersecting square design.
Albania sits at the crossroads of three major religions: Islam, Catholicism and Orthodox Christianity, and two new churches were recently completed for the later religions. So in order to promote religious harmony within a capital city in the midst of major renovations, Skanderbeg Square has been set aside for the Islamic cultural center.
Playing off the orientation of the existing square as well as alignment towards Mecca, the buildings’ forms emerge from these intersecting axes. The back of the buildings line up with the streets while a series of semi-covered plazas, two minor ones on the sides of the Mosque and a major plaza with a minaret in front, face Mecca.
The mosque area would be flexible to accommodate up to 1,000 people for daily prayers all the way up to 10,000 for special holy days like Ramadan – especially those make it eco. All the shaded spaces are cool and inviting, while the curved facades are covered in a multitude of rectangular windows inspired by mashrabiya screens. Was it ever built? Doesn’t look like it.
The Green Mosque In Chicago
The Green Mosque, which was awarded Best Freestanding Religious Structure in the Faith in Place competition in Chicago, incorporates a library, education center, lecture halls, and a soup kitchen. Is this the world’s greenest mosque?
As far as we know the mosque has never built built. In theory it’s green, in practice, not so much. But details here can lend to any architect’s inspiration.
Cambridge Eco Mosque
The United Kingdom’s largest environmentally-friendly mosque in Cambridge adopts energy saving techniques. Architect Marks Barfield will be designing the £13 million eco mosque on a 0.4 hectare site in Cambridge embedded within some of the region’s most beautiful scenic views. Read the Green Prophet exclusive on England’s eco mosque. (Update 2021: the mosque is finally complete and the images here reflect that.)
The defining internal characteristic of the mosque is the timber ‘trees’ which form the structural support for the roof and the roof lights. The geometry of the trees was developed through work with geometric artist Keith Critchlow, creating the underlying geometry of the mosque. It combines an Islamic ‘the Breath of the Compassionate’ pattern into a structural grid that supports the roof and is then brought to a point at the columns. It is a simple device that combines the structural logic of supporting a large span with few columns and a celebration of the structural material and its decorative possibilities, bringing to mind both Fosters’ Stansted Airport, and King’s College Chapel.
The external brick tiles that clad the CLT structure are from traditional Cambridge Gault and are red brick colours. The protruding headers form a pattern of Arabic Kufic calligraphy that reads “say he is God (the) one”.
Social and environmental sustainability were central to the competition-winning scheme and have been delivered. The intent was to produce a building in accordance with the spiritual belief that humanity’s role is as a responsible custodian of nature, meaning one should minimise their carbon footprint.
The building has achieved net zero carbon energy on site in use. The competing elements of the demand for car parking to suit large events with elderly congregations, creating an underground car park and the environmental consequences of embodied carbon have been recognised. The passive and active sustainable measures incorporated within the building meet and exceed some elements of the RIBA 2030 Climate Challenge targets and other elements of the design have future-proofed the building to allow for predicted climate change.
Great Mud Mosque of Djenné, Mali
The Great Mud Mosque of Djenne in Mali is just one of the world’s hand built mud buildings that are increasingly considered as options for low-carbon and low-cost construction. It was built in 1917, though it looks like a thousand years old and still standing.
Yemen boasts the magnificent ‘Manhattan of the Desert’ mosque and Iran is home to the Bam citadel. Check out more Middle Eastern beauties and mud architecture.
Ray of Light Mosque, Dubai
Nicknamed the “Ray of Light,” this unusually shaped entry for the Dubai Mosque Competition is illuminated with LEDs, designed to minimise energy use and metaphysically segregate worshippers by a ray of light (most Muslim places of worship include separate prayer spaces for men and women).
Like most great ideas it takes more than an architecture proposal to get off the ground. Millions of dollars of investment and years of building are needed. Looks like this one didn’t succeed. But the photos are fascinating.
More green urban architecture:
Stunning Abu Dhabi Resort Celebrates Bedouin Architecture
Luxurious Chiseled Desert Lodge In Jordan Is Also Sustainable
Dubai’s New Net Zero Building Codes Should Boost Cleantech Worldwide
What Happened To Islam’s Environmentally Friendly Architecture?