Cambridge Central Mosque Defines English Architecture of the 21st Century

Cambridge Central Mosque is Europe’s first-ever eco mosque and winner of architectural design awards. 

The Mosque design was inspired both by Islamic and English religious architectural traditions.

Its mandate is to meet the needs of the Muslim community in the UK and beyond by facilitating good practice in faith, community development, social cohesion & interfaith dialogue.

Marks Barfield Architects has designed a sustainable mosque in Cambridge that draws on local architecture while incorporating traditional Islamic design aspects, including geometric patterns that symbolize the infinite.

“It was a question of what a British mosque should be in the 21st century; it was very much about recognizing that Islam is part of British culture now and has been for hundreds of years.”

Worshippers and visitors enter via an Islamic garden before passing through a covered portico and then an atrium, preparing them gradually for the contemplation of the prayer hall, facing Mecca.

“The gardens enhance the feeling of an ‘oasis’ that the building as a whole embodies. Even the roofs are green!”

Its presence is clear but modest, considering the size of the mosque relative to the two-story terrace houses around it.

The mosque is part-powered by solar power, which covers all of the hot water used, all of the cooling of the building, and 13 percent of the heating. It also harvests rainwater for flushing toilets and for irrigation.

The defining internal characteristic of the mosque is the timber ‘trees’ which form the structural support for the roof and the roof lights. It combines an Islamic ‘the Breath of the Compassionate’ pattern into a structural grid that supports the roof and is then brought to a point at the columns.

Cambridge Central Mosque has been announced as one of six buildings on the shortlist for the Royal Institute of British Architects (RIBA) Stirling Prize 2021, the UK’s most prestigious architecture award, given to the UK’s best new building.

Judges praised the Cambridge Central Mosque project saying, it was “a demonstration of how architecture can embody religious and cultural philosophy and traditions while utilizing sustainable and contemporary materials.”

The mosque was also described as a ‘multidenominational mosque (that) gives Muslim traditions a contemporary context’.

The RIBA Stirling Prize is the UK’s most prestigious architecture award. The award is given to the architect of the building thought to be the most significant of the year for the evolution of architecture and the built environment.

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