The mosque serves as a place where Muslims can come together for salat (prayer) as well as a center for information, education, and to dispute settlements.
In the Ottoman urban texture, a typical European city square is rarely seen.. Instead, the Mosque and mosque courtyard relatively serves as the city square. Mosques with their social complexes are the center of social life.
Apart from their planimetric assembly, due to normal masonry construction, we can observe from the point of geometric forms that minarets provide the visual focal point and the domes are secondary. Domes are also are also used in Turkish bath’s, tombs, markets and similar buildings as a way to open up the floor plan.
Ottoman Mosques have a circular geometry, which is multi-directional. They are illuminated sanctuaries of esthetic. There is technical balance that highlights a hint of heavenly transcendence. The spaces contrast heavily with early church architecture that is rectangular, linear axis construction, dogmatic, oppressive and dark.
The central domed examples are aimed at gathering a large amount of people under one space. This is obtained by articulating building units with construction capabilities of the times. Formed by structural aggregation, the perceptional meaning of central spaces coincides with the idea of existence. The Mosque effectively combines of all the parts, elements and individuals, into an effective whole. Domes’ seamless spatial effect indirectly identify with the existence of universe, minarets symbolize a religious communication antenna. Essentially, construction technique, architectural space and meaning become integrated.
The Yesil Vadi Mosque is designed from emphasized function and identifying components. Bearing in mind, all of the traditional, spatial, semantic criteria this mosque takes the concept of communal memory to heart.
The mosque’s schedule is formed in the context of “social gathering.” It consists of a 350 person prayer area, 250 person meeting hall, library, social activity units, courtyard and square. All of these components combined together to form a social complex.
The main structure of the mosque is located on the half of the site that is occupied by a shallow reflecting pool. This positioning isolates the building from the surrounding environment functionally and symbolically.
The central space and form of the mosque is obtained by subtractions from a 25 meter diameter hemisphere mass. By subtracting a 2.5 meter thick spherical section from half of the hemisphere the gathering place is formed. The last prayers area is created by emptying a section of the sphere, while the subtraction of a vertical piece forms the cap stone gate and entrance. The mihrab (a niche in the wall of a mosque that indicates the qibla/ direction of the Kaaba in Mecca) is fashioned by removing a shell-like piece along with smaller-shell like pieces and brought to life by the resulting windows that are formed.
Contrary to the “subtractive” geometry of the dome, the minaret is formed by joining a paraboloid to a cylinder. Smaller cylinders added together form the cone that sits atop the minaret, the crescent as well as the gallery (a balcony which encircles the upper section of the minaret from which the muezzin may give the call to prayer).
The main space of concrete shell is defined by two different diameter hemisphere domes. The circular opening between two domes is divided by 11 (33,99 religious directory) illuminated windows. These windows allow light to pour into the main space through the engraved symmetric kufi calligraphy of prayers. The calligraphy reflects over interior of the dome as a resulting effect. At night the widows are lit up resembling a crown over the dome of the Yesil Vadi Mosque.
The main interior space takes in light from 3 stepped windows, and the mihrab takes in light from the rear and top windows. The mihrab is also emphasized with engraved symmetric kufi calligraphy “Basmala,” an Arabic noun that is used as the collective name of the whole of the recurring Islamic phrase “In the name of God, Most Gracious, Most Merciful” (b-ismi-llahi r-raḥmani r-raḥim).
Above the main gate, which is made of stainless steel and elegantly decorated sliding glass doors, the marble is ornamented with a geometric marble muqarnas formation.
The minaret is detached from the main structure, and is sized according to the golden ratio. This ratio is repeated throughout the design connecting the scales of all major and minor elements.
The gallery, cap and crescent are made up of 20 cm diameter stainless steel cylinder tubes creating a muqarnas-like effect as they are stacked and shifted concentrically. These tubes illuminate the minaret and gallery with fiber optic lighting elements from both ends. The cap of the minaret houses a well hidden 4 way surround speaker system for amplification of the prayer call.
Additionally the building forms a platform having wide gargoyle that allows water to flow down. The largest water element that covers half of the courtyard symbolizes life and being alive, while the marble ground covering symbolizes stability and death. In the courtyard there is a concrete console stele structure placed in between two musalla stones (space outside a mosque that is mainly used for funerary area). This console stele is engraved with Sura Al-Fatiha is the first chapter of the Muslim holy book, the Qur'an. In abstract as well as in physical form, time and the sequence of life is symbolized.
The Yesil Vadi Mosque is positioned according to the master plan’s data for the new settlement area, which is also planned by our office. Yesil Vadi Housing Settlement contains housing blocks, shops, social facilities, a sports center, and an elementary school. The housing settlement with all of its amenities combined together with the Mosque form an entire neighborhood.
CONCEPTIONAL MEANINGS OF DESIGN
The circle form in this design helps to represent the universe and infinity (the symbol for infinity “∞” is formed by twisting a circle). At the same time circle is the symbol for unity. Centric planned Ottoman mosques are generally circularized, as permitted by extent of construction. In the design process of Yesil Vadi Mosque the circle is utilized as the main form in both two-dimensionally and three-dimensionally.
The unity of existence as a single entity constitutes the essence of Islamic thinking. Existence only changes form and everything in the universe is the reflection of it. Unity can denote a combination of all the parts, elements and individuals into an effective whole. Even the smallest whole has the quality of being united into one and can be used to represents the universe. A literal translation of Arabic “muslimun” would be "one who wants or seeks wholeness", where "wholeness" translates islamun.
The whole universe is united together; it is a part of the omnipotent being. Universe (cosmos) has no beginning or end. The notion of beginning and end only exists for us mortals; these are only short periods in the unity of existence. The starting points of design were based on all of these notions and especially “kelime-i tevhid” (give translation).
MEANINGS OF FORMS, MATERIALS AND COLORS
The circular plan of Yesil Vadi Mosque is designed to symbolize the universe and unity. The larger of the two nested hemispheres represents The Great Beyond (God “Allah”) and the small one represents the world (Prophet of God “Muhammed”). The Great Beyond is being reached through earth’s door; thus unity is realized.
The triangular pool surrounding the dome is the reflection of God and The Great Beyond. On the water the reflection of the hemisphere transforms into a unite sphere.
The paraboloid form rising from the base of minaret carries the traces of spiritual rise. The notion of unity is expressed in the muqarnas-like tubes that illuminate the minaret and the gallery with fiber optic lighting.
Water flowing down from the gargoyle and cascade pool as the symbol of wisdom and beauty, spread from the eternal source to the base of the universe.
In terms of materials, glass is approached as the interface of existence and non-existence. Stainless steel is the symbol of confidence and gold leaf, as the most noble metal, is the symbol of endurance and abstract existence. White Marmara marble is applied all over expressing purity and cleanness. The peaceful, awe-inspiring color of the plentiful and holy olive tree’s leaf is used for the color of the carpet.
Fiber optics lighting on the interior of the dome represents the infinity of universe and the comprehensiveness of the celestial sphere.
CONCEPT OF CALLIGRAPHY
Both the design of the mosque’s domed space and its calligraphy is based on “kelime-I tevhid”, “La-ilah-a- ill-allah, Mohammad-an- Rasul-ul-lah”. (Arabic phrase translates as: There is no god except for God alone; Muhammad is the Prophet of God.)
In Yesil Vadi Mosque instead of the routine practice, only calligraphy of “Allah” (God) and “Muhammed” (Prophet of God) is used as calligraphic expression and ornament. Also on the wall of the meeting hall entrance Thuluth (Sülüs) (is a script variety of Islamic calligraphy) calligraphy of “Al-Ikhlas” Sura is placed (the 112th Sura of the Qur'an, a short declaration of God's absolute unity) which almost forms the basis of the sanctuary.
The calligraphy of Sura Al-Fatiha, a keystone of Islamic thinking, in Mecca script is concreted on the stele between the console musalla stones.
The mosque is accessed through the main portal with “Basmala” an Arabic noun that is used as the collective name of the whole of the recurring Islamic phrase “In the name of God, Most Gracious, Most Merciful” (b-ismi-llahi r-rahmani r-rahim). Kufi calligraphy “Basmala” is engraved above the doors. On the glass sliding doors there is the mirrored kufic calligraphy of “Muhammed”. Symbolically “Muhammed” leads the way of worship to “Allah”.
The “Mihrab” (prayer niche) engraved with gold foiled Kufic calligraphy “Basmala”, Thuluth (Sulus) gold foiled “Allah” calligraphy with white gold foiled background, gold foiled surface on “Mihrab” form and the crystal white Thasos marble composition represent infinity and entity.
On the circular windows surrounding the perimeter of the dome, “Allah” is engraved in calligraphy. This is used in the notion of simplicity, like saying “La-ilah-a- ill-allah” (the notion of kelime-I tevhid). At day time the sun passes through the “Allah” engravings and at night the glass is illuminated from its casing making the “Allah” calligraphy visible with its own light.
The “Minbar” (pulpit) representing pure knowledge and revelation is made of clear glass and crystal marble. As a declaration chair it is engraved with Kufic calligraphy of “Muhammed” (Referring to messenger of the Qur'an, first revelation from God).
On the marble clock above the “Mihrab” (prayer niche) “Masallah” (Masha'Allah is an Arabic phrase meaning "God has willed it") is engraved. Here the time notion involves infinity. Specification of universal time, time and timelessness, are notions directly dependent to “Allah” and they represent “Allah.” Mirrored Kufic calligraphy in front of Imam’s stand points out the Islamic calligraphy “kelime-I tevhid” and the main space of the mosque is also illuminated through the kufic calligraphy of “kelime-I tevhid” in the glass panels of the main windows.
Gold leaf Vavs (waw, is the primary conjunction in Arabic, equivalent to "and", and fixed construction of wallah "By Allah!") flowing down the spherical dome, are the narrations of “Allah”s name, and the existence of “Allah” in whole universe.
Over the curvilinear marble walls of the meeting hall foyer, 'talik' form calligraphy (a new calligraphy style discovered by the Persians) of “Asma Allah al-Husna” (The 99 Names of Allah) is engraved expressing abstract existence and the characteristics of “Allah”.
All of the calligraphy and the overall mosque space signify the unity of “Allah”, oneness and that spiritual direction needing no other explanation.