Hackney Mosque building images, London E2 Islamic design UK, Mile End architecture in Tower Hamlets

Hackney Mosque Building

Islamic Architecture in Tower Hamlets, east London design by Makespacearchitects, England, United Kingdom

24 Apr 2009

New Mosque designs seek to articulate a British Islam

Design: Makespacearchitects

Hackney, London E2 – a new 3-storey contemporary addition to an existing mosque in a listed building in a conservation area has been given planning permission by Tower Hamlets.

Hackney Mosque Building

Hackney Mosque

This mosque in Hackney is on a site slotted between two buildings on a side street. As a starting point we took a Moorish tile pattern from the Alhambra palace in Granada, and enlarged and abstracted it to form the facade of the building.

Through this abstraction process we created a design that is part structural, part enclosure, part Islamic pattern and part abstract shape. The rest of the facade is clad with a metal mesh cladding system to suggest permeability, continuation and latticework, key themes of Islamic design.

Hackney Mosque Design

Mile End Mosque
Mile End, London E2 – a glazed contemporary addition to a mosque converted from neo-classical bank has been submitted for planning permission to Tower Hamlets (expected to receive planning permission in March 09)

This project is for the addition of two extra floors to the existing mosque which itself is housed in a converted neo-classical building. The street scene is eclectic, the site slotted between a 1930s cinema and Victorian monolithic department store, so a contemporary treatment of the mosque addition appropriately takes this rich mix further. The glazed curtain wall is decorated with abstracted Islamic patternwork in the kufic style.

Mile End Mosque Building

Gillingham Mosque
Gillingham, Kent – concept design for a major new mosque
This proposal for a new mosque in Gillingham formed part of a tender bid for the land. The mosque is based on the traditional hypostyle design found in north african cities such as Fez and Marrakesh, with the entrance courtyard and minaret on a corner. In this design the roof is an irregular zig-zag of weathered copper, and the minaret a parametric tower clad in copper shingles sitting on top of a glazed cafe.

Gillingham Mosque Building Gillingham Mosque Gillingham Mosque

Bethnal Green Mosque
Bethnal Green, London E2 – design for new community mosque (at design stage)
The mosque on this awkward site is currently housed in a series of temporary cabins, and this proposal is for their replacement with a new building. The site is squeezed between a railway line, a park and a Victorial school block.

The irregularity of the site informed the formal response, which was for a dynamic plan resulting in a triangular building with a minaret ‘block’. The traditional elements of dome and minaret have been kept here, reinterpreted and designed as part of the overall formal dynamic of the building. A lattice canopy of islamic design forms the entrance way to the building which doubles as additional prayer space at peak times.

Bethnal Green Mosque Building Bethnal Green Mosque Bethnal Green Mosque

English Mosque Design : text from Makespacearchitects

Muslims are the fastest growing population in Britain, and mosque building has expanded exponentially over the last two decades to reflect this this trend. With debate raging on how Muslims position themselves in modern Britain, we think the buildings they build can positively contribute to an emerging and confident British Islamic culture.

Makespacearchitects have been working on a series of mosque designs in and around London, and in each have been developing a contemporary language of Islamic architecture that could be considered as a British evolution of the Islamic tradition.

A key aspect of mosque design lies in the close working relationship the architect has with the mosque committee and local community. Mosques are mostly small and local, set up and supported by the local Muslim community, and therefore above all it must have a resonance for these users and meet their practical and symbolic needs.

Each mosque is therefore a negotiation between the community’s expectations, the requirements of local planning policies, and the architect’s aesthetic and cultural vision.

Mosque committees often have particular expectations of what a mosque should look like. These ideas are often rooted in certain interpretations of Islamic history, which centre on the architectural elements of the dome and minaret. The form of these elements and the style of their decoration has varied throughout Islamic history, depending on which culture implemented them.

We believe that an indigenous British Islamic architecture is a continuation of this process of interpretation and reference to tradition. As there are no actual requirements of what a mosque needs to be, other than the prayer being oriented towards Makkah, the formal responses are open to interpretation and suggestion.

It is important to refer to elements that people perceive as traditional, as the mosque must have meaning for the people that use it as well as being a symbol for the ongoing evolution of the Muslim world, of Islamic tradition and of the diversification of British society.

Mosque building in London is a sensitive and intricate process. As architects we are negotiating the complexities of London’s urban fabric, the desires and politics of a mosque community, the weight of Islamic architectural history, and demands of rapid cultural change.

London Mosque Design images / information from Makespacearchitects 240409

Location: Hackney, London E2, UK

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