My favourite building: Faisal Mosque, Islamabad

My favourite building: Faisal Mosque, Islamabad
Faisal Mosque can hold 10,000 worshipers in its core prayer hall, 24,000 in its doorway, 40,000 in its courtyard and another 200,000 in its neighborin
Published: 12 September 2013 - 4:01 p.m.
By: Nick Ames

As we ask industry leaders about what structures inspire them, Norr Group Consultants vice-president Yahya Jan tells the story behind Pakistan’s national mosque

Yahya Jan’s favourite building is the Faisal Mosque in Islamabad, Pakistan, which is sited at the foot of the Margalla Hills, the westernmost foothills of the Himalayas.

The Faisal Mosque is the work of Turkish designer, Vedat Dalokay who won the Agha Khan Architectural Award for his work on the project.

It is named after the late King Faisal bin Abdul-Aziz of Saudi Arabia, who supported and financed the development.

Jan said: “This is a building I recently visited and it is the state mosque of Pakistan. It was designed in the 1970s by Vedat Dalokay, who has since passed away. What I particularly like is the way that tradition and modernity have been combined.

“A mosque is obviously a very traditional structure, but this has a contemporary feel to it as well. Among its inspirations are the tent-like structures of the Bedouins and of the Kaaba and the design plays with these geometric structures.

“It has all come together in an iconic contemporary interpretation.”

The structure is flanked by four unusual minarets inspired by Turkish architecture.

Dalokay later explained his thinking to design school students: “I tried to capture the spirit, proportion and geometry of Kaaba in a purely abstract manner. Imagine the apex of each of the four minarets as a scaled explosion of four highest corners of Kaaba – thus an unseen Kaaba form is bounded by the minarets at the four corners in a proportion of height to base. Shah Faisal Mosque akin to Kaaba.

“Now, if you join the apex of each minaret to the base of the minaret diagonally opposite to it correspondingly, a four-sided pyramid shall be bound by these lines at the base side within that invisible cube. That lower level pyramid is treated as a solid body while four minarets with their apex complete the imaginary cube of Kaaba.”

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