Sited in a prominent location in the outskirts of Preston, our proposal for a new iconic Mosque envisions an architectural language that is timeless in its materiality and honest in its tectonic approach. Conceived as an elliptical extrusion at the south-western end of the site, our design features an abstract and legible massing that is not only iconic and memorable, but also highly kinetic.
Its most notable feature is its textured brick facade, which is conceived as an urban-scale curtain that pleats away to frame the main entrance of the building. Inspired by the veil-like qualities of traditional Mashrabiyas, the facade’s pleating form has inherent structural stiffness that allows it to exist as an independent system whilst endowing the building with a rich tectonic language.
The materiality and careful treatment of the mosque’s exterior not only harmonizes the relationship between the new and the existing, but in fact further enhances the building’s cultural identity by harkening back to the textile manufacturing industry that has characterized the region throughout history. Located at the south-western end of the site, the minaret tower makes reference to Lancashire’s well recognized round-section cotton mill chimneys - celebrating the local history whilst announcing the mosque’s presence within the skyline of Preston.
Our design retains the spatial richness and programmatic sequence typical of traditional mosques. A carefully choreographed sequence unfolds from the moment of arrival, taking on the character of a religious procession whilst framing the visitor’s experience of the building. A sinuous ramp provides a point of access for pedestrians into the site, navigating the topography of the hill and producing a slow transition from city to mosque - from urban to sacred. Sited at the cusp of the hill, a civic plaza frames the point of arrival and allows visitors to fully embrace the surrounding context from an elevated datum. Upon entering, the building unravels as a series of carefully articulated layers in plan, inviting male visitors into a grand lobby at ground level and leading female visitors to their own dedicated prayer facilities on level one. The visitor’s experience culminates at the prayer hall. Devoid of superfluous ornament, the space allows the architecture to be fully manifested and experienced through a playful interplay of light and shadow, material and craft, surface and texture.
By virtue of its scale, form, and materiality, the mosque will be executed as a highly refined building that celebrates Islamic tradition whilst also paying homage to British craft.
Location: Preston, UK
Site area: 8,850m2
Building area: 990m2
Total floor area: 1,685m2
Structure: Precast concrete, glulam timber
Status: International Design Competition, 1st Prize. Ongoing
Architect: LUCA POIAN FORMS
Team: Luca Poian, Mohammed Rahmany, Luciano Preci
Structural Engineer: Price & Myers
Service Engineer: Skelly & Couch
Quantity Surveyor: Bristow Consulting
Planning Consultant: Cassidy & Ashton
Images: Filippo Bolognese Images