Name: Golshahr Mosque and Plaza
Architect: Arash G Tehrani
Design Team: Ghazaal La’li, Marjan Keshtkar, Saman Banaei
Client: Hajitarkhani Foundation
Date: Spring of 2018
Location: Golshahr, Alborz, Iran.
Type: Religious – Cultural – Public
Site Area: 22220 m2
Design Area: 7428.64 m2
Studies: Ghazaal La’li, Sheida Tavakkol
Statues: Proposal – Competition
Awards: Special Mention – Prize Winner
Designing contemporary mosques (or not so quite right term “Modern Mosque”) could be a real challenge, especially in contexts and lands with centuries of style in ancient and also Islamic architecture such as Persia, Iran. The question of “How should a contemporary mosque be?” is one hot and controversial topic which didn’t fall during recent decades. It’s not a question of to be or not to be, but it’s a question of “how it should be”? Should it ignore all the history behind? Should it stick to the same traditional forms and ornaments? Should it be a mixture of a high-tech era and ornamental past? Maybe it’s a little bit easier while thinking about churches due to all successful experiences of modern era churches, to contemporary attempts, from Le Corbusier, Tadao Ando, to I.M. Pei and Vicens + Ramos. But with all the unsuccessful samples and all the fanatical thoughts, it could be difficult to start a mosque project, so architects often should start everything on their own when they are commissioned to design a contemporary mosque.
Arash G Tehrani, The architect of the project has a long background of practicing and researching for contemporary mosques with a bit of critical view, with internationally known projects such as Qods Mosque and Payamber Incorporated Minarets. Besides designing a contemporary – modern mosque, this project also has a Plaza involved which is also another challenging modernized practice of ancient Persian architecture, inspired by world-renowned samples such as Isfahan’s Naqsh-e Jahan Square.
In Persian style Mosque architecture, the mosque is never a single solitary form of a building, it’s always a part of the urban context, with an open arm in a plaza; the architect believes. This is the basic concept, which this project tries to reach both in form, and function, through contemporary attempt, with notions of critical views.
Every land’s architecture has formed during a process of an evolution and would continue to this process. Architects of this project preferred to let the design follow this path, criticize the defects and forgotten functions, to propose new ways, and to avoid architectural selfishness of its architects and at last to be a mosque.
The diagrams and studies show that there are certain issues repeated in the history of mosque designs in Iran, which the architect believe them to be important not for just copying the past, but because these factors are not useless forms, they are actually functional elements and solutions for environmental issues, public psychological security, and etc. Among this functional elements are inner yard system and great Plaza or squares such as Naghshe-Jahan, with surrounding low-height buildings full of popular public services, and rising, ascensive skyline. These mosques and urban squares born from pre-Islamic Persian architecture, especially in the Sassanid era and are working properly in the 21st century. Also, the mosque main building and its pray rooms must be rotated towards the Mecca, called Qiblah Axis, that’s why axis-less design styles could make conflicts both is functions and religious beliefs.
We wanted to create a contemporary, modern-day mosque and plaza without coping any forms or ornamental elements from the past, but we also wanted it to have Iranian architecture spirit, attributes, and sense of Persian spatial architecture, so we kept necessary functions and attributes, and ignored unwanted elements that we have criticized them.
Despite the architect’s previous concept-based mosque designs, this project follows a more functional and Attribute-oriented approach. The design process is started with the context (as always). It started with site analysis and its influential factors, then formed with environmental factors, functions, attributes, and concepts. The site was located along one motorway and 6 pedestrian walkways passing through the site, separating it into 4 zones. The client has prohibited any Interference in these parts, not any kind of design even on or under the ground. But actually, the architects believed that this project is one single project with multiple functions, not multiple projects under a single title. So the first policy to start the design was the conjunction of 4 zones into one project, both aesthetically and functionally.
The walkways, pedestrian accesses, views, and vehicle access were located. Then the main functions were located in each zone, and then 3 smaller plazas designed to conjunct the 4 zones. These functions rounded around the site to form a greater plaza and its form tries to move toward the mosque and rise for its skyline.
The mosque is located in the north-west zone and is rotated into the Qiblah Axis. Library and ceremony hall and other cultural parts such as gallery and classes are located in the south-west zone; public activities such as restaurants, cafes, and shops located in the north-east side, and the amphitheater and other public spaces in the south-east zone.
This project aims to create a contemporary modern day mosque and plaza without coping any forms or ornamental elements from the past, but it also wants it to have Iranian architecture spirit, attributes, and sense of Persian spatial architecture. So necessary functions and attributes were kept and unwanted elements that have been criticized by the architect were omitted.