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Mosque in Preston | England

International Contest



RIBA | Royal Institute of British Architects


Diego Brasil

Andressa Almeida

Carlos Gabriel Vilhalba

A sacred place, destined for religious cults and prayers, transcends normative and technical issues and fundamentally approaches symbolic issues. Within the symbolic aspect, it is important to understand that this fact does not act as a formal license, on the contrary, it demands that each piece and/or element establish a relationship necessary for its support. Thus, each proposed object is supported by the technique in order to reach symbolic relationships.

The proposal in question for the Preston Mosque takes the natural profile of the land as a design principle, so four guidelines are established: the mosque will be installed at the highest natural elevation to establish a landmark and modify the natural landscape; the parking lot will be located 1.40m below the lower elevations of the terrain, in this way it seeks to mimic the location and disappear into the landscape; the main access is placed on the current level curves that build a natural path to the central portion of the land; the complementary uses are half-buried and are arranged on a water mirror  triangular that, in addition to reflecting natural light to the interior of the main room, also works as an external envelope that elevates the main building to a loose object on the landscape.

The only building that emerges from the terrain is set up as a square without vertices, so the lines that would delimit the end or the change of orientation are transformed into an absence of limits and offer space for planes of lights and landscapes that deal with the beyond and the endless. Every base of the prayer room also dissipates the perimeter lines, as they use a convex edge to transfer from the horizontal to the vertical plane. Four pairs of equidistant columns support the planes and reinforced concrete beams that assemble this large object loose on the landscape, only a deformation is performed on this object to define the access location and protect the access of users.

The roof structure is arranged as a tangle of beams that aim to distribute structural tensions evenly, in addition to producing a kind of aerial lace fabric that provides, through zeniths, a profusion of dim lights within the main hall. This hall houses the two rooms of worship, the male and the female,  distributed on different floors, as well as an internal space with 12 meters high and set up a perspective oriented towards the mihrab, which faces Mecca 

Two concrete monoliths are distributed on opposite sides, they  explore the vertical lines to demarcate the area occupied by the Mosque and build a new skyline for the region, the west facing monolith measuring 36.4 meters high, while the south facing one measures 26.4 meters. These pieces allude to traditional minarets and, in addition to altering the landscape, contribute to a long-distance perception of the main use of the building, a place for worship and prayers. 

Thus, the Mosque for Preston combines an object that arises from the reading of the conditions of the place together with answers to the questions pertaining to a suitable place for Muslim prayers. The result is a conception that deals with the absence of limits and treats light, the endless, the reflection and the relation of scale as design elements.

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