Amir Shakib Arslan Mosque

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This small mosque of 100 mq includes the renovation of an existing masonry cross-vaulted space and the addition of a minaret, grafted onto the existing structure as a symbolic landmark, next to the 18th century old palace. A new civic plaza was created in what was before an adjoining parking space, turning the frontage of the mosque into a public square with seating, water fountain, ablution space and shading under a newly planted fig tree.

The mosque’s new slender minaret is linked horizontally through a gently concave canopy to a curved wall at the plaza level, delineating a portico for the mosque below and creating a transitional space between the interior and the street, as well as adding privacy from the outsid.

L.E.FT Architects, Amir Shakib Arslan Mosque, Moukhtara, Lebanon, 2016. Photo Ieva Saudargaite

L.E.FT Architects, Amir Shakib Arslan Mosque, Moukhtara, Lebanon, 2016. Photo Ieva Saudargaite

When looked at it obliquely from an angle, the steel plates stack to compose a complete and comprehensive volume. Looked at it frontally, the mosque’s volume, through its thin planarity, disappears and blends with its visually rich historical backdrop, momentarily suspending belief in its actual presence.

Below, at the curved wall entry to the mosque, the pixelated and equally structural word Insan (Human) is added to the steel plates, to create a Hegelian dialectic of God/Man. The juxtaposition of both renders the idea of humanity as an integral part of the equation with God, placed in a new dialectic, and becomes a reminder of the humanistic tradition of Islam.

L.E.FT Architects, Amir Shakib Arslan Mosque, Moukhtara, Lebanon, 2016. Photo Iwan Baan

L.E.FT Architects, Amir Shakib Arslan Mosque, Moukhtara, Lebanon, 2016. Photo Iwan Baan

Rather than the traditional inert Cube/Dome/Minaret volumetric expression of normative mosque architecture, the design offers a lighter reading of the typology, an ephemeral tectonic presence. The concave/convex planar surfaces of the new mosque brace the outside plaza and street in an extroverted geometry, linking it to the interior religious space which would have usually been hermetically enclosed.

Overall the design of the mosque is a celebration of the ethos of modernity as it relates tectonically to the notion of abstraction, of ephemerality, and representationally to the continuity of the humanism tradition in Islam. It represents a part of a cultural war of ideas that needs to be fought against the fundamentalist forces across religions, a war where architecture is a weapon.

Amir Shakib Arslan Mosque, MoukhtaraLebanon
Program: mosque
Architects: L.E.FT Architects – Makram el Kadi and Ziad Jamaleddine
Design team: Gentley Smith (project architect), Rafah Farhat, Elias Kateb, Alex Palmer, Nayef al Sabhan, Tong Shu, Shun-Ping Liu
Manufacturers: ACID – Karim Chaya
Engineering: Antoine Bou Chedid
Lighting Design: Maurice Asso- Hilights
Main Contractor: ACON
Artists involved: Lawrence Abu Hamdan and Nisrine Khodr
Area: 100 sqm

Completion: 2016

مقالة عن مسجد الأمير شكيب أرسلان في المختارة نشرها النائب وليد جنبلاط عبر “تويتر”