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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.

As with Mosque V1 Modeling, this most recent proposal for the Shahjalal Mosque was physically modeled and photographed from the same perspectives as the six precedent mosques chosen for Mosque Massing, in order to have a constant to compare differences. It shows how the building deals with the two axis of fabric and mecca, as discussed in Site Axis. It also is located at the South Eastern edge of the park and addresses the street much like a Public House would with little or no boundary between the entrance threshold and the pavement.

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.

Constructed iaround 1353, Sultaniya, Iran; the Tomb of Chelebi Oghlu is a superb precedent for what can be achieved decoratively with brick. Using standardized dimensioned bricks a repetitive islamic geometric pattern has been created without what some would consider the excessive nature of Brick Expressionism. The subtle use of different colored bricks is similar in language to Alvar Aalto’s Baker House, where twisted and distorted overburnt bricks were used at intervals of a seemingly plain elevation.

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.

A comprehensive collection of London Pubs by Postcode by Ewan Munro on Flickr, found here.

As in Mosque Massing, this early proposal for the Shahjalal Mosque was physically modeled and photographed from the same perspectives as the six precedent mosques chosen for Mosque Massing in order to have a constant to compare differences. As discussed in Mosque V1, the building deals with the dictated route axis across the site and the building axis of the exiting fabric. It also starts to create an outdoor room towards the North-East of the site, but is rather awkward in dealing with the Southern edge.

Six of the footprints studied in Footprint Study were selected due to scale, location or the way in which they deal with different imposing axis. They were mass modeled but purposely without a dome, if featured, to negate any sense of influence this may have on study which it is not relevant. All six were recored from plan view as well as three key views taken from routes across or along the park, identified in Site Axis.

Comparing the footprint of various mosques and Islamic Centres which have prayer halls is very interesting. The shape and scale of the buildings can vary dramatically, and more intriguing is the way in which they contort to face Mecca. Some are simple rectangular shapes, which are just set to face the direction of prayer and some are shapes with more sides allowing them to face several directions. Others meanwhile clearly deal with two clear axis, more commonly that of the surrounding fabric, and it is how these structures deal with this meeting point that creates a very special moment.

The Namaz Khaneh, located in Tehran, Iran is a very simple but beautiful space. An afterthought as part of the designing of the entrance to the Carpet Museum by Kamran Diba. This open air prayer space, not much bigger than nine metres squared, has an outer wall orientated to the street grid, whilst an internal wall is orientated towards the direction of prayer. This basic maneuver creates a void space between the noisy surrounding areas and the internal space for contemplation and prayer. The two walls are also connected by a vertical slit in both walls creating a view to a sculpture representing the standard Hand of Hazrat Abbas, which also acts a the Mihrab for the space. This separation of walls is also interesting if it was used in say the ventilation strategy for an energy efficient building.