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Recently I was given a tour of the Brick Lane Mosque. It is a very good example of how a building can be re-appropriated for another use, but one of the more interesting features was this carpet. Only used in one space in the building (the upper floor space above the main prayer space), it is a carpet featuring a prayer mat pattern. Personally I have a preference for the traditional hard surface with individual mats for prayer, which allows a space to be more flexible, but I do love the quirkiness of this.

Brick Lane in London is a excellent example of middle eastern culture inhabiting a part of a british city. The area shows a delicate hybrid of cultures with many middle eastern activities being practiced in re-appropriated english buildings with little if any impact on the exterior.¬†One elevation of note in amongst this very british vernacular, which includes landmarks such as the Truman Brewery, is Fashion Street. The aesthetics of the buildings that run the length of the street have clearly been created by merging both cultures vernacular styles to create something new. My feelings are that a lot of the decorative work is unnecessary, however the forms of the fenestration; taking a very industrial window and adding a slight islamic twist, generates fantastic forms. The strength of a material such as brick, and it’s use in both architectural styles, permits very subtle detailing to create a building which would feel comfortable amongst both.

Despite the regular use of domes, the Minaret is the only architectural feature that is synonymous with mosques. Above are two examples of highly decorated minarets, separated by just short of 900 years. The much discussed Brick Lane minaret, constructed at the end of 2009 is a stainless steel structure, rising up to 90ft in amongst a highly dense part of London. The minaret is the first religious structure added to a building that has been used to house worshipers of different religions over around four centuries and has been accused of pointlessly labeling a structure that does not require it. It is however a beautifully worked piece of metal sculpture. The Islamic pattern is clinically cut using some sort of Computer Aided Manufacturing (CAM), most likely a water jet cutter; as suggested for cutting the Wallpaper Balustrade. The other, the Kalyan Minaret located in Bukhara, Uzbekistan. Constructed in 1127, this looks like a possible precedent for the whole Brick Expressionism movement, with the brick used as decoration and well as structure.