Mosque Design | By Apostrophe’ Architecture Studio – Masjid e Sughra
Masjid e Sughra
Architecture Design Firm
Masjid-e-Sughara is Apostrophe’s second attempt at mosque design. First attempt was in 2002 as part of a mosque design competition. The concept for the mosque design was the same 17 years back also.
We proposed a mosque principled on the idea of the original design of Masjid al Nabawi, as forwarded by the Prophet Mohammed (PBUH) himself. Masjid al Nabawi was the third mosque built in the history of Islam. It was a modest structure and had mud walls raised over stone foundations. The roof was made of trunks and branches of date palm trees. Only a portion of the Masjid had a roof to protect attendees and participants from the Sun. On the south side there was also a bench that served as the place for Ahl al-Suffah (literally, people of the bench), the poorest of the poor companions who had no homes, and were supported by the Prophet (pbuh).Simplicity was not only restricted to the use of materials, the layout of the Masjid was improvisational rather than ostentatious.
Over the years, architecture of the mosques has tuned into an ostentatious showcasing of splendor and greatness. Much like Christian architecture, the worship spaces of Islam depict grandness of godly proportions, failing to address the humility of the worship offered in these spaces. Our main focus for the design of Masjid e Sughra was to bring architecture of the mosque close to the sentiments of the worshipers and the humility of the worship itself, rather than depicting the attributes of the Almighty Allah.
Masjid e Sughra was built more than 30 years ago, but subsequent additions to the plot and alterations to the mosque structure made its planning ad-hoc and confusing. In the recent years establishment of a school and a madrassa alongside the mosque has further jumbled up the planning of the mosque that kept acquiring land in a discordant way.
Following up with the requirement, we completely re structured the design of the mosque, but taking care of the requirements we have also been taking into consideration various factors which will be evident in the incentives of our mosque design:
Reducing Carbon Foot Print:
A conscious effort has been made to localize all construction and to further reduce the carbon footprint the geographical location of the site was researched carefully. All the material markets and labor camps in the vicinity were thoroughly explored and diligently considered to feed in to the execution of the mosque design, cutting down on transportation costs considerably. An effort is being made to bring construction closer to the scope of artisanship in order to reduce reliance on factory produced materials for construction and increasing livelihood of the area in which the masjid is being built. Walls have been made thick in order to be effectively insulated and are proposed to be Terrazzo finished. Terrazzo finish has long been used for flooring in and around the city of Karachi; this finish is labor intensive, is of on-site nature and has many insulation and maintenance friendly benefits also. Wood is proposed to be used as much as possible, keeping in mind the city’s wood market, the Haji Camp, is in the neighborhood, restricting logistical support and thus reducing the carbon footprint of the construction as well.
Reducing the Structure Load:
Apart from making a choice of materials to lower use of natural resources, a conscious attempt is being made to reduce the dead load of the construction in order to reduce the usage of load countering resources, thus reducing the carbon footprint of the construction. The first step to reduce the load is to make all slabs wooden. Mosque roof is imagined to be made with fiber glass. Dome of the mosque to be in wood like all the other slabs.
Increasing Effective Circulation of the Mosque:
Skewing the plan according to the qibla direction leaves a lot of negative spaces around the masjid block, this has been used to aid the circulation of the worshipers. Masjid block has been made in accordance with the worshipers’ rows which gives more space to the negative spaces, improving the quality of these circulation spaces, which always get compromised otherwise in a mosque design. This circulation space around the mosque gives easy access to the Janaza movement also, a space has been kept for holding janaza prayers at the front of the mosque. There is a side door way for every few rows inside the mosque, giving the worshipers an easy access to this circulation corridor.
Multi Adaptability of Usable Space for Lower Maintenance Cost:
The mosque is planned in four blocks, in order to cater to usage of space as required, attendance varies during the 5 prayer timings and also according to the days. We have 4 mosque blocks
• Madrassa Mosque block
• Court Mosque block
• Minbar Mosque block
• Ladies Mosque block
All of these blocks can be used separately and individually while others remain locked, catering to the number of worshipers present. This reduces energy consumption of the mosque along with the maintenance costs. In case of Friday prayers all of these blocks can be easily unified into a big Jamaa Masjid.
Moving Ancillary Spaces to a Split Level in Order to Give More Space to the Masjid Blocks:
Wazu and toilet areas have been moved into a partial basement in order to liberate the upper floors for maximum worshiping area. Basement floor level has been kept with the municipal Plumbing level in mind to keep drainage gravity-based, in order to avoid septic tanks and water pumps.
Green Cover and Wind Circulation:
Masjid roof is proposed to be covered in green vines and creepers, to cool the interiors besides giving it a natural ambiance. Leaving a circulation corridor all around the masjid and madrassa blocks, gives space for foliage plantation. Wooden screen has been made the main feature of the multi-level madrassa block in front of the mosque. The mosque’s accordion form enables easy cross passage of wind, introduction of double heights on both ends of the mosque along with wind catching clerestory windows on the rooftop, makes the air circulation travel vertically also.
Ramps have been provided for wheel chair accessibility for the mosque area on the ground floor.
Only a handful of elements have been used the give the blocks an Islamic identity, namely:
• A dome atop the Madrassa Block
• A double height Minbar at the front of the mosque, visible from both the ground and the first floor of the minbar mosque space
• Arches as openings on the ground floor of the Minbar Mosque block and also of the Madrassa mosque block
• A minaret as an urban landmark