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Contemporary Mosque: Juxtaposition of Tradition and Modernity

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main entrance design of white Contemporary mosque
  • Islamic pattern in modern mosque
  • sky-light in modern mosque design
  • modern mosque exterior design
  • modern mosque plan
Our clients contacted us with this message: “The community I belong to in Detroit is interested in building a mosque and cultural center that is about 10,000 square feet. It would have 3 classrooms, two restrooms for men and women, kitchen, a prayer hall that’s about 1,500 square feet, and a large hall that would allow for cultural activities and should open up to the prayer hall during Ramadan and ‘Eid.” And with considering these needs, we began to design this Contemporary mosque.

They also needed the outside of the mosque to have a parking lot for about 50 vehicles, a soccer stadium, and basketball playing grounds. He asked us to be creative with the design because the project was at the conceptual stage. We tried to design a building that has a modest design that isn’t too resembling of a mosque since it will also promote people of other religions to come in for cultural activities.

With their influential and leading iconography, based on tradition, religion architecture is one of the most conservative building typologies in any context. On the other hand, referring traditional and local values creating a sense of sustainability had always been a major challenge in a modern understanding of religious architecture.

This Contemporary mosque represents research towards creating a sense of consciousness towards creating a peaceful continuity between traditional and modern values of cultural accumulation. The composition is based upon parallel walls not only defining the essence of interior space but also creating a transitory medium for exterior and interior spaces as a powerful organizing element.

Use of glass and reinforced concrete directly as a finishing material in this Contemporary mosque, the use of transparent and solid materials, modest simplicity and minimalist architectural attitude directly refers to contemporary architectural elements whereas abstract Islamic expression and motives of the entrance, refer to familiar traditional elements.

One of the most important symbolic parts of the building is the movement of the water in it and connection between water pools, gardens, and the building; which is reminiscent of the miracle of the creation of living creatures from water as described in the Quran (main religious book of Muslims).

Current mosque architecture often represents a notable blending of styles, trying to combine various architectural traditions to create something recognizably Islamic.

Placing a prayer room in the middle of the architectural plan reminds us of the centrally-planned mosques in the Byzantine Empire. Other rooms are gathered around this main space of the mosque and are defined very well to have their characteristics. Our client wanted two separate entrances for men and women to the mosque, and we designed them similar to emphasize the equity between all in Islam.

This Contemporary mosque also embodies the idea of embracing both the new and the old in one building. Elements like the Islamic patterns and main entrance are retained from the past and integrated with new structures and materials like concrete and glass. Also using the tree in mosque architecture is a contemporary move which remains a peaceful and relaxing place.

The 'Old and New' will be expressed independently while being experienced collectively as an integral whole. A series of skylights eliminate the boundary between inside and outside of this Contemporary mosque and a visitor moving through the building will always experience the presence of both in one sentence this mosque is a dialogue between tradition and modernity.

About The Project

John Balash




Sylvia Stalling, Kate Weber, Isabel woodman, Alex Hudson

Project Type:



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