MOSQUE OF THE WATER
ABU DHABI, UAE
Competition. First Prize
Area / Size
54 700 sm
With the belief that the Mosque should play an essential role in the regeneration of the area of Saadiyat Island, the design serves not only the function of a religious building, but consists also an open place of gathering and interaction. This spatially unique place aims to bring people together to celebrate the rich rituals of everyday life.
Urban and environmental challenges are combined sensitively with cultural aspects and integrate with the established geometrical principals that generate the form of the building. Conceived as a new building typology, the Mosque aspires to have a strong civic presence, in an effort to synthesize spatial quality, functionality and the relationship of the building with its context, culture and the urban environment.
With a sensitive implementation on the site, the building becomes a continuation of the sea through a lifted platform serving as a Prayer Hall that expands towards infinite. Fluid formations refer to the motion of the sea in an effort to connect the building to the surroundings.
The shape of the building is a generous platform that barely touches the ground, narrowing at the top and disappearing in the air. The building’s totally unified floor plan aligns with the urban grid and extends to the sea. This volume is sliced by an inclined plane in order to face Mecca and the ocean. The slicing produces a cut in the volume that shapes a giant wave in the elevation of the building, referring to the motion of the sea.
Ground floor is presented as a bridge between the city and the sea while the deck extends and sinks in the water. The open shaded areas create a clear threshold between circulation and prayer space. On the street level the inviting layout forms an assembly space for urban life. Open at all times, the deck not only defines the entrance points but acts as a focal point of public life that will significantly enliven the street culture around the building. The white pillars rise up from the ground, emphasizing the overarching movements of the shape and creating a covered public space that frames views to the ocean.
Inside the vast prayer room the circulation pathways emerge through the floor in a fluid manner, providing indirect access points that do not interfere with the function of the Mosque. Only the “dunes” that lift locally the floor punctuate the totally free plan. These architectural elements together with the sinuous “mihrab”, create the landscape of the Prayer Hall, while the interior doubles the transverse dimension to enable the whole space appearing unbounded.