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I was trawling the internet for beautiful examples of Sigurd Lewerentz’s work and came across my former university college – The Manchester School of Architecture, Continuity – and their blog of his work.

Often regarded as the master of brick, Lewerentz famously created St Mark’s church (pictured above) entirely of brick without cutting a single one, and created what some considered almost perfect, reflected in Adam Caruso’s Sigurd Lewerentz and a Material Basis for Form His wonderful arrangement of structures creates incredibly charged spaces which result in very successful schemes with no better example than Klippan.

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The rear of the proposal features a very ornate brickwork pattern based on Alvar Aalto’s Baker House method of using twisted and distorted overburnt bricks, set to the Brick Pattern generated from the Tomb of Chelebi Oghu. This pattern is used on the scheme’s facade to signify the religious parts of the building.

The aim of this project was to create something that sat comfortably. A building that was accepted by both Islamic and London cultures and that was happy in it’s context. It has taken heavily from Public Houses and addresses the corner of Shandy Park in a similar way to many examples such as The Wenlock Arms, breaking down any barrier threshold. The material selection of London Stock helps the structure to compliment it’s surroundings, being a exemplar of what can be achieved with the material. Ornamentation is kept subtle, especially on the street elevation, being used to signify the location of religious spaces and also creating visual barriers for private spaces. The rear elevations addressing the park are more extravagant in decoration but still in keeping with the scheme. Personally, I think it sits comfortably with a sense of belonging, in the true sense of the word.

The proposed Shahjalal Mosque is a brick building. It will be built from London Stock for two reasons; that it is used by many other structures in the area and will give the building a local identity and that it is a locally sourced material, bringing the building’s construction embodied energy down dramatically.

Not long ago I put up a post called Fashion Street, in which I applauded the attempt to create an building which featured elements from both typical Islamic and British vernaculars. Above is a partial elevation of my current proposal for the Shahjalal Mosque in Shandy Park. It attempts to create a hybrid of the two vernaculars taking from Public House, Industrial, Traditional Islamic and British Domestic styles. You can see the change in hierarchy in fenestration much like a London Terrace, the Brick Pattern inspired by Alvar Aalto’s Baker House and the Etched Glass, which covets the play on public/privacy with ornate patterns of a Pub’s window. All in an attempt to create a building that would feel at home in Britain or an Islamic nation.

Above is an image of Alvar Aalto’s Baker House, Cambridge, Mass (1946-49) taken from Brick: A World History by James W.P. Campbell. Aalto’s use of brick as an elevational treatment for the Baker House is of particular interest because of his use of twisted and distorted overburnt bricks. They are used at intervals to add interest to the surface, but laid to protrude from the wall they would make an interesting contrast to regular bricks if applied to a Brick Pattern.

The geometric patterns from Etching Pattern has been applied to glass to create a sample at 1:1. Here it has been photographed next to brickwork to show the contrast between the two proposed materials and how they sit in harmony.

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.

Brick, despite being a commonly used material, is often understated. The limits are only really set by the designer’s imagination and the dimensions of the brick. Even then you can “cheat” by cutting, chamfering or even creating bespoke bricks. The problem however is exploring an idea’s potential. This is very difficult with brick as due to the size of them at 1:1 and when sketching it is very hard to investigate in the 3rd dimension.

Here scale bricks at 1:24 are used to model a pattern in relief.

The pattern used on one of the six sides to the Tomb of Chelebi Oghlu is clearly based, at least in part, on Kufic script; the oldest calligraphic form of the Arabic scripts. It also features a spinning motif, one of the most frequently recurring patterns throughout Islamic art. Here the pattern has been adapted to the sizes of standard bricks rather than square cross sectional ones used previously.