London-based architecture firm AL_A, led by Stirling Prize-winning architect Amanda Levente, has won an competition to design a new mosque in Abu Dhabi as part of Foster + Partner’s World Trade Centre development by Aldar Properties.
Foster’s 700,000m2 project is a full-integrated mixed-use facility comprising of offices, residences, a mall, a souk as well as a hotel.
The 2000m2 mosque and park are designed to provide an escape from the steel and glass of the World Trade Centre as a focal space for worship.
“The Mosque is envisaged as a piece of the city, one that reflects the journey from the temporal to the spiritual. Set within a park, the mosque and the garden become one, with the trees and the columns forming an informal vertical landscape and allowing Friday prayers to spill outside,” said AL_A director, Ho-Yin Ng.
“Inside, shafts of light penetrate the roof of the prayer hall. This daylight, dappled or dramatic, animates the space and activates the senses.”
The project is conceived as a pathway rather than a convention building, symbolising a journey from chaos to order.
The building will include an egg-box-like roof structure designed to be seen from the surrounding high-rise buildings supported by slender columns that reflect the shape of the palm trees which will be planted in a paved courtyard at the front.
A pool of water will sit to one side of the building, with a tall, stand-alone pillar made from a metal lattice providing the minaret.
Edinburgh landscape architecture studio Gross Max will collaborate on the design of the outdoor areas.
“Visitors’ first impression is of an informal park landscape of trees and columns,” the firm explained. “Traversing the park, the trees and columns align, a grid emerges and an axis becomes apparent as people are guided towards the Mosque. Once inside the axis shifts towards Mecca. The columns have a directionality that reconciles the move from the urban grain of the park to the serene grid oriented towards the qibla.”
The studio adds: “The park is imagined as a pastoral escape from the immediate context of the vertiginous steel and glass of the World Trade Center. This subtle transition between inside and outside, between architecture and garden, between worship and daily life reflects on the spiritual and emotive nature of the project.”
Inside, the prayer hall evokes the traditions of Islamic architecture, with the surfaces of the columns inspired by geometric patterns,
The pattern of perforation on the columns is designed using a bespoke computer script to vary and control the amount of light entering through the roof structure.
“The play of light and shadow animates the space and activates the senses. In this way, an aspect of Islamic tradition is revealed through twenty-first century technology,” said the architects.
The firm added: “The roof is designed as a landscape to be viewed from the surrounding high rise buildings. The minaret signifies the Mosque’s presence in the wider landscape of the city. Ethereal, delicately perforated and self-supporting, it is dislocated from the roof yet formed of the same proportions as the columns that constitute the rest of the Mosque.”