Dr. Spahic Omer
In this paper, I will discuss the meaning of Islamic architecture and some of its functions and salient characteristics. The discussion will be divided into the following sections: (1) The meaning of Islamic architecture (2) Islamic architecture as a means, not an end (3) Two examples: the Islamic house and the mosque (4) Pragmatism and Islamic architecture (5) Towards the revival of Islamic architecture. The nature of the paper is conceptual or philosophical, rather than empirical. The paper seeks to enhance the awareness, both of the professionals and general readership, as to the importance of correctly conceptualizing and practicing Islamic architecture. Obviously, this is not a paper written from a pure perspective of architecture. The paper deals with the subject of Islamic architecture as a religious, cultural and civilizational phenomenon deeply rooted in history and its existence and survival closely tied-up with the existence and survival of Islamic society.
From ancient cultures to modern civilizations across the world, we can clearly see traces of creativity in every human-made object. Creativity has taken an important place in the process of creating new objects, or producing new ideas. Creativity also has affected a large part of our daily lives through innovations and inventions in technology, art, science, etc. Therefore, creativity can be considered as a key to the development of our civilization.
The mosque, Avenues Masjid, is said to be designed by Zahad Hadid for a commercial area in Kuwait city. No reliable source confirmed such information. It is mostly displayed in some Kuwait websites.
Medinanet open discussion on this project in the light of the Islamic Architecture ethics and principles.
Its outer form, that is the only part displayed for the public is very controversial. The design of a mosque dictates a multidirection approach that responds to various requirements such as urban setting, internal functionality, spiritual values, cultural context, etc.
A mosque is mostly an inward looking space where most activities are taking place in isolation from the outerworld. Material aspect of mosques thus becomes secondary in the design of mosques. Does this formal approach turn architecture, especially when it comes to religious buildings, into a matter of visual consumption?
Prayer in mosques is conventionally made in parallel rows that are set behind the Imam. The length of first rows is recommended in Islam. A columnless space also helps in insuring the continuity of these rows. The Qibla wall is recommended to be opaque and simple. Can such a curved form fit the function of the mosque that is mostly dictated by the mode of the Islamic prayer, conteemplation and spirituality?
In relation to context, most mosques were and still are nodes in the city where roads and streets converge to them. They were entirely integrated in the urban fabrics and only known by their minarets and gates. Their courtyards were surrounded by shops and public open spaces that generated community life. Doesn't this trend of isolated pieces of architecture accelerate the desintegration of cities and the continuity of the modernism spirit that is based on competitivity, and hegemony of architects names?
Is creatvity shifitng architecture to a mere game of forms and subjective play of desires?
Comments are left to readers
Dr. Spahic Omer
4. The house as a microcosm of culture and civilization
The house is a microcosm of culture and civilization because the primary elements of society: individuals organized along with the family lines, are born, raised and educated in them. The strength of the institutions of the family and house denotes the strength of a society and the verve of its cultural and civilizational agenda. Similarly, frailties in the institutions of the family and house denote frailties in a society and in its cultural and civilizational agenda.