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The client brief from Aldar Properties outlined objectives such as creating an uplifting, spiritual space that caters to the practical needs of the worshippers, as well as addressing the character of the district. According to the architects, Aldar, as a master developer, is committed to building a mosque in each of its developments, reflecting the firm’s dedication to give back. With a built up area of 2,200m2, the mosque’s plot is carefully placed on a public seaside promenade facing the marina, allowing for a context-inspired design that maintains harmony with its immediate surrounding. According to the architects, the formal language of the mosque derives from a contemporary interpretation of traditional Islamic architecture.
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“The proposed design for Al Dana Mosque celebrates both male and female prayer halls equally,” said Ahmed Al-Ali, principal of X-Architects. “It offers a well-articulated, spatially unique prayer hall for females and [considers] it a main component of the design, rather than as an annex or extension. The proposal draws attention to gender equality from a practice point of view. In fact, this is vividly reflected in the form and mass articulation of the mosque.”
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While the leaning domes of the structure are meant to evoke shifting sand dunes, the mosque transforms into a lantern at night, as the light from the interior emits outward. And during the day, the high oculus brings daylight into the space, which are spotlighted across the interior’s floor depending on the time of day, forming a spiritual connection between the “earthy interior and the heavenly skies”. Al Dana Mosque was also designed to emphasise energy-saving. Elements like oculi, wall perforations and natural light filtration assure the building aligns with sustainability measures.
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“Our approach to the design was experimental and exploratory in nature,” said Al-Ali. “We reimagined traditional mosque components and investigated geometry and architectural language from a new perspective that reflects the intellect, aspiration and vision of the UAE.”
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He added, “The end product is multi-faceted in nature, and corresponds to numerous factors and considerations – all of which interact to create a mosque that is avant-garde and yet deeply rooted in its culture and context.” Al Dana Mosque is meant to serve as both a religious space as well as a public space, with the plaza, inspired by a traditional sahan, serving as the urban connector. According to Yazeed Obeid, senior architect, the project is read as a landscape intervention that connects the two levels of the site and “eases people’s movement, connecting them to the promenade and sea”.
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“The design aligns with the ‘Abu Dhabi Public Realm Guidelines’,” Obeid said, “and it will achieve an Estidama 2-Pearl rating. This is obtained through numerous measures – one of which is the planting of 10 species that correspond to the region’s climatic and environmental constraints. Such measures will assure the site, not only the building, will grow gracefully and give back to its context and surrounding. Other members of the design team include Farid Esmaeil, Marija Krsmanovic, Piyush Bajpai, Samer Halloum, Abdullah Bashir, Nazish Khushrudin and Mina Eldaba. The mosque’s completion date is set for December 2019.