Religious sanctuaries are sheltered places where people can reflect on life in peace and quiet, protected from profane and commonplace everyday living. They were once designated places in nature where godly and consecrated deliberations appeared more personal and intense than other places. Over time, these sacred settings became available in human-made structures such as temples, churches, mosques, and other religious buildings.
BeOffice Architects has created a Turkish mosque that celebrates the accouterments of yore in Sanliurfais, where numerous ancient Seljuk- and Ottoman-age mosques are presently being renovated. Instead of a conventional building, the new mosque is spherical, surrounded by no human-made boundaries, and centers on serenity, the natural environment, and openness.
The Circle Of Synergy
BeOffice Architects defied tradition by designing a circular mosque, which highlights its endless nature, instead of the customary square or rectangular shape. With no defined borders or pointed edges, the 8,073-square-foot structure is welcoming and beckons to all. Paths and halls all lead to the inner sanctum of the central courtyard and heart of the mosque.
The journey to the center of the mosque is otherworldly. The view of the sky seems to reach into infinity. Trees and other greenery thrive all around the globular structure, and visitors are calmed and comforted by seemingly infinite water channels and a spiritually stimulating reflective pool.
The Neighboring Knowledge Niches
The Istanbul-based firm plainly understood that the mosque would be much more than a place for veneration and introspection. Most mosques include a madrasah, a place of learning, where children and adults alike are schooled in Islamic beliefs, customs, and history.
To create cohesiveness between the outside and inside of the mosque, BeOffice Architects fashioned paths between learning and worship spaces based on the topography of the site. Learning centers, classrooms, and structures dedicated to solitary, focused study are interspersed with the lush greenery of the surroundings, abiding the euphoric atmosphere throughout the spiritual education-social center.
In addition to the designated educational buildings, there is a canteen/snack bar where visitors can gather to break bread and mingle. A private hall near the women’s designated place of devotion hosts lectures and gatherings and also offers a variety of educational resources. All of the areas are designed to optimize the natural light of the day as well as utilize the prevailing local tradewinds for optimum aeration. The walkways and foundations for the landscape are made from crushed stone gathered from local quarries.
Accomplishing a Goal
When the principals of BeOffice Architects took on the project, the Turkish architects had a specific vision in mind for the 21st-century landmark. They said, “Rather than defining the mosque as a place of worship, it is to create an education-social center supported by different functions as a teaching of the madrasah, to draw the urbanite here and to provide a state of solidarity. In this context, landscape design is developed with the motto is ‘using every value in place and as necessary, avoiding wastage which constitutes the basic philosophy of design.’” Mission accomplished.