Project name: SKY VAULTS

Client : EMAAR

Location:  Dubi,United Arab Emirates

Type: Monument

Status: Competition

Date: APRIL 2018

Scale: Small

In contrast with the primitive mosques in Islamic history with open and exposed praying halls, porches or courtyard mosques with uninterrupted connection to nature and city, contemporary mosques are mostly built as closed, fully interior and bulky constructs. The interesting challenge of this competition to make use of the mosque’s roof and its public plaza as praying ground inspired us to radically transform the spatial and architectural configuration of the mosque, whilst giving it an iconic and monumental character.

The Site of the project is located in-between two major landmarks; the Creek grand plaza and tower and The Sanctuary Park, the visual, dynamic and public linking nature of this axis is highly inspirational that can be empowered by design. The main concept of our project is to maintain and amplify this role, therefore instead of designing the mosque as a solid mass blocking the link and view, we imagined the mosque as a transparent structure that could allow the view, natural light, public flow and the cool sea breeze pass through. In that regard, we have made use of the site’s slope and plunged the main praying area into the ground to unify the level of the plaza and the Green Bridge with the praying hall’s roof as an open worship area. In this sense we have moved the praying hall below ground to open up the roof toward the plaza and the public, the roof’s surface is covered by layers of linear open arches inspired by the most admired multi-shell domes and vaulted porches of historical mosques. The composition and configuration of open arches create an open worship area overlooking the magnificent landscape of the park and the sea.

Differentiating the ground level has created various public spaces throughout the plaza. In contrast with the big scale and monumental design of the open vaults, the interior praying hall is designed at a much more human-scale dimensions and forms a humble and meditating space with rays of light penetrating the roof.   

The Geometrical proportions and superimposition of the open arches is highly inspired by the Art of Karbandi which has been used as an old Islamic drawing technique beneath domes and vaults for generating decorative motifs and here is expressed through patterns created by the particular spatial configuration and superimposition of layers of arches. The inlays of the rows of arches are rotated and resized gradually inward, rotating form the axis of the site towards the axis of the Qibla Wall and form different patterns of light and shadow. The arches also act as an environmental and shading design feature. On the other hand the natural lighting of the main praying hall is provided by a special perforated pattern on the roof which is formed by connecting the points of the bases of the arches on the roof.