PRESTON MOSQUE |A MESSAGE OF COEXISTENCE
“O you mankind, surely We created you of a male and a female, and We have made you races and tribes that you may get mutually acquainted.” (Quran surah Al Hujurat 13 - QS 49: 13)
1. VISION & NARRATIVE:
Preston is a model city that epitomises exactly how community relations should be between many and varied community groups. Therefore, we envision the mosque as a space that would represent the Muslims as a welcoming, friendly and open community, a place where Muslims and non-Muslims will leave only to come back.
The rise of Islamophobia is amongst the most significant challenges to Muslims worldwide. It undermines the relationship between the Muslim community and others around them, spreading a sense of fear and isolation rather than peace and harmony. Chief amongst the reasons behind Islamophobia is the ignorance about Islam and its practices which turned mosques in the minds of many into questionable places rather than places of connectivity and with people and God. Our design tackles the aforementioned issue, and promote the role of the mosque as a catalyst for community reconciliation while maintaining the sense of mindfulness for the practising worshippers.
The form is derived from the basic geometry of the cored cylinder which is altered to become a helix-like geometry ramped from level zero and upwards, creating a flow through the buildings various levels which is easy and accessible to all. Three key elements are identified; an indoor circular ramp or THE REACH LOOP (highlighted in yellow), and one outdoor circular ramp or THE DISCOVER LOOP (highlighted in blue) in addition to the HEART of the building; the main prayer hall (highlighted in red).
EXPLORE |THE OUTDOOR LOOP
6 Outdoor Terraces for everyone to informally explore the city views, socialize with people, and be a guest of the Muslim community.
The “Explore/outdoor loop” runs as a ramp from level zero next to the main entrance and elevates upwards to the peak of the building. It offers various terraces with panoramic views overlooking the city. The terraces are connected to a different internal space each making them serve as an outdoor extension when needed. Various events can take place on those terraces, including Friday markets and Eftar or Sahor events. They can also serve as space for socializing after prayers or Eid ceremonies. Looking inwards into the building visitors can see glimpses of view into the main prayer hall for indirect visual interaction with the practising worshippers.
REACH |THE INDOOR LOOP
3 Interior Spaces for visitors and Muslims to formally reach out to the Muslim community and meet and work with each other.
The “Reach / Indoor Loop” also runs from level zero, it starts from a lobby accessible from inside and outside the mosque opposite the main entrance. It connects multiple internal spaces that are arranged alongside this circular ramp. The Reach loop offers accessibility to a women’s prayer hall by the main prayer hall in addition to the library, meeting rooms, the offices' space and the multi-purpose hall. Those spaces offer the opportunity for Muslims and non-Muslims to interact in formal or semi-formal settings, such as attending a conference or volunteering to serve the community.
PRAY |THE HEART
1 Hall for mindful worshippers to pray to God and connect with the sky.
Both loops run vertically parallel to each other and independently from each other while circling the heart of the building; the main prayer hall. The prayer hall itself is a simple circle-shaped triple-highest space with a direct connection to an additional prayer space that can be used for women and a shaded outdoor prayer space at the start of the “Explore” loop. The hall features a big transparent dome-shaped like the famous whirling dervish floating clothes allowing for maximum natural lighting and a sense of connectivity with the sky. Artificial lighting points come down from the dome following its shape and imitating the curves of the spiral galaxies at night.
The mosque’s main entrance is a natural by-product of the designed form. It sits under the shade of the raised section of the helix offering a transition zone and a sense of welcoming entrance in addition to direct access to the “Explorer” loop. By nature, each loop is ramped from the ground upwards, meaning that all spaces are easily accessible by everyone, including elders, kids,
and wheelchair users. Additional access points have been added to connect each indoor space from the “Discover/indoor loop” with the adjacent half-level up outdoor terrace. This, on the one hand, provides each of the internal spaces such as the library with a terrace, and on the other hand, provides each of those spaces with its own access from the “reach” loop, meaning that any of the internal spaces could be accessed independently from outside if needed. A circular pedestrian pathway is introduced around the mosque flawlessly connecting the parking and access points from surrounding streets with the 2 main entrances of the mosque.
The parallel indoor and outdoor loops offer an alternation between void and mass providing a generous widow wrapping around the building for the natural light to flow into the prayer hall from all its sides and into all the internal spaces through their skylight openings.
5. CONTEXT & PROMINENCE
The mosque stands out from the surroundings given its unique soft form in contrast with those of the neighbouring buildings. Its green accessible ramped roof delivers a statement of openness and hospitality which can be observed at the eye level of pedestrians as well as from the elevated road next to the site. The minaret stands as a simple flat vertical element functioning as a projection wall on which the mosque communicates its messages to the city around it.