By: Hunter Wilson
As a requirement for ARC 532 Global Traditions, we are to design a religious shrine that is specific to its place. Local building methods and materials are to be considered when designing this building. Also, local culture should be considered when approaching a design.
The site for the religious shrine is Luxor, Egypt. With Egypt’s population at 85% Islam, the religious shrine will be a mosque. This mosque will be in remembrance of a local Imam, which is the leader of an Islamic congregation. Common features of mosques include the sahn, which is the courtyard. These courtyards are necessary because the mosque must hold a large number of people at once and it provides a sort of breathing room. Fountains are found in these courtyards. These fountains serve as a place for ritual cleansing that is done before prayer. Another key feature is the Mihrab. This is a niche in the wall that indicates the direction of Mecca. Mihrabs can be relatively plain or be covered in geometric ornamentation. The minaret is another key feature to most mosques. A minaret is a tower from which the call to prayer is announced to the surrounding area. Ancient mosques often contained flat roofs, but as technology advanced, domes became more prevalent. The domes, from the interior, are often lined with symbolic decoration and ornamentation. It is a representation of heaven. Other features found in mosques include a shoe storage area. This is because shoes are prohibited in the prayer halls.
Most early mosques in the Middle East were designed using a style called hypostyle. Hypostyle is translated to mean “many columns”. These hypostyle mosques were complete with a large courtyard surrounded by long rooms, which were then supported by columns.
This project is to be completed by hand drafting. The drawings are to be detailed enough that if they were given to a local builder, they could then construct the building using that information.
This exercise brings some insight into designing for other cultures. It is interesting to study new building techniques and how local culture affects the architecture in a specific area.
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