Site and Context
Situated in a mixed-use zone abutting the state highway in Chunangamvely in Aluva,
the location and its context provide the project an identity to connect with different
levels of the city. With porous street edge profile delineated by tree canopies, the street frontage is characterized by low rise buildings.
The site at street level, the adjoining plot at a higher level and the context without any
distinct architectural character – harmoniously favours in with our liberty to express
and experiment with materials, form and spatial planning.
The Design programme derives its idea of spaces and their functions from the ideals
of Salafi community to develop a secular and communal space responding effectively
to its context. The design aims to connect the structure to the street, along with
creating a peaceful environment for religious activities.
With the site characterized by a busy street with commercial activities, the building is
zoned into two levels: the lower level with congregational space and the upper level
with sacred space. The overall built mass with self-contained religious space is
designed to engage with its context without losing its serenity. Thus, the commercial
block is designed to actively respond to its adjoining street.
The two levels are developed into two distinct volumes
based on their functions. Placed on top of the
commercial block, the religious block is slightly rotated
orienting the prayer hall towards the west – the Qibla
(the direction of Kaaba). As the design progressed, the
rectangular volume is chamfered along all the corners to
form a curved built envelop emphasizing the continuity
of the form in the exterior and obtaining a more defined
religious interior space with improved functionality and
spatial quality. The rectangular form with curved corners
is complimented by the domed roof on top and balanced
by the tall, circular minaret in the northside.
The ground floor is proposed with maximum utilization of the permissible buildable
area of the site. With minimum setbacks on all the sides, the front yard lined with trees
acts as a buffer zone between the building and the street
Solely designed for religious activities, the upper block is divided into separate prayer
halls and ablutions spaces for men and women along with a classroom. The octagonal
prayer hall in the centre is oriented towards the curved corner facing the west forming
a symbolic mihrab.
Philosophies, symbolism and design
The physical structure and the spaces created
within a sacred enclosure plays a vital role in
creating awe, a sense of satisfaction and serenity,
which thoroughly influences the behavioural
aspect of the user. The Salafi community believes
in the individualistic approach towards the
almighty with spaces being the functionally
differentiated analogues to these philosophies.
Heeding to the community beliefs, a conscious
decision was made to provide segregated prayer
spaces accessed through separate stairways for
men and women.
Accessed directly from the street level, the
staircases leading into prayer hall adds in character
to the structure. The narrow passage forming the
stairs lined with plain walls on both sides is derived
from the circumambulatory path of the ancient
Indian religious believes. The staircase is a pure
symbolization of the search for light
(enlightenment) during dark times (the journey
through the narrow passage), culminating in the
prayer hall. It is an attempt to create a spiritualistic
procession with an element of surprise.
The monotony of the building
envelope is broken down with the
introduction of voids, openings,
varying textures and colours. Apart
from the aesthetic appeal, the jaali
given around the built envelope is
designed to provide natural
ventilation without compromising
the privacy. The increased building
porosity also ensures continuous airflow in and out of the structure lowering the
indoor temperature and cooling down the interiors considerably.
The interiors are designed to be simple, light, spacious and welcoming. The larger
prayer hall for men placed in the centre shares one of its walls with the smaller prayer
hall for women on the southern side. The play of light with the patterns created by the
jaalis and skylights brings in dynamics to the interiors. The lighting with a monotonous
interior colour palette forms the sole element dictating the spatial quality to develop
the space into more than mere walls and openings. With the varied lighting, the
calmness offered by the light colours interiors, the design aims to transcend the space
into an intermediate realm together with establishing a dialogue between its users.
Reinterpretation of the traditional elements
Designed to embrace the traditional and
contemporary, the mosque is a beautiful
amalgam of both styles. The conventional
elements like domes and minarets are
introduced into the design with a modern twist.
Designed with ribbed vaults, two half domes are
erected with a clerestory in between them. The
single dome adds more volume to the central
prayer space. Located on the northern side, the
single minaret is designed against the
rectangular volume, visually balancing it. Unlike
the conventional ones, the minaret is proposed
to have a chamfered top with tiny circular voids
along the walls for ample lighting and
In search of light.
The two-floored structure is a beautiful composition of religious symbolism, functional
modernity, user sensitive spatial organization and context-specific design embracing
religious ideologies and principles from inception to execution. The mosque is a
carefully crafted attempt to discover and translate the quintessence of these spiritual
philosophies into the architectural vocabulary through design.