Arts & Culture \ Mosque Competition, Reykjavik

Our design aims to be modern, connected to Iceland, and at the same time recognisable as a mosque without resorting to the architectural language of traditional mosques. We have chosen to look in abstract at the ideas of light, colour and geometry found universally in mosques throughout the ages. The mosque is also a social place and we have attempted to make the social life of the building visible to those outside as a way of demystifying its activities.

The very fact of designing a mosque in such a northerly latitude is itself quite intriguing since the rituals of daily worship are closely related to sunrise and sunset. In Iceland, of course, these vary enormously between mid-summer and mid-winter. Within the mosque space itself we have constructed a symmetrical but non-hierarchical space using the geometry of the equilateral triangle. The whole space is orientated symmetrically on the quibla. The roof is an agglomera­tion of naturally lit lanterns each formed of equilateral triangles of space and built at two different levels. Each of these lanterns has a single window of coloured glazing which face in one of six directions. The six directions will be colour-coded around the spectrum of colour with red to the north, green to the south, yellow to the east and blue to the west. Consequently, within the mosque there will be a predominant reflected colour depending on the direction of the light; the space will tell the time of day and in Iceland, the season outside.

The building is a single storey design with only the library and technical room at first floor. Approaching pedestrians can be viewed from the office which can also supervise the entrance and foyer. On the approach, the library is given prominence at first floor level. Books are visible through a large bay window and individual study spaces are given expression on the north-west façade. At the entrance and from the adjacent motorway it is pos­sible to see right through the building on a north-east/south-west axis so that the social activities of the foyer are displayed to the world outside.

The main social space, the auditorium, sits centrally in the plan and is lit by a clerestory and window onto its own terrace. It is also placed on axis with the mosque itself to allow for expansion through opening screens. Two terraces on the south-west side are available for social gatherings from the foyer, classroom and auditorium when good weather allows.


Architects Richard Murphy, Daryl Robbins, Mark Donaghy
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