EAA-Emre Arolat Architecture

EAA-Emre Arolat Architecture

New York, NY

Photo by Cemal Emden
Photo by Cemal Emden

Sancaklar Mosque

The building was designed as a response to the Sancaklar Family who wanted to build a mosque on a site overlooking the Büyükçekmece Lake, at a neighborhood of many gated communities. The main issue was a confrontation with the classical Ottoman mosque scheme, which became a blank anachronism with today’s construction techniques.

Depending on the fact that a mosque does not have a predefined form and anywhere clean may be a prayer’s room, the project focuses solely on the “essence” of a religious space, by distancing itself from discussions based on form. Physical and emotional pleasure was at the forefront. The design aimed at representing purest forms of light and matter, just as a primary inner world, free from all cultural burdens. The disappearance of the building in the slope of the site, anchorage to the ground as if it has always been there, getting rid of all temporal and cultural engagements were aimed. 

The project site is located in a prairie landscape that is separated from the surrounding suburban gated communities by a busy street. The only visible elements of the mosque are the garden surrounded by horizontal courtyard walls and a vertical prismatic mass of stone (minaret), which depicts that this is a “place.” The inscription clarifies that this is a place for praying. The cascades following the natural slope turns into steps as one moves through the landscape, down the hill and leads to the lower courtyard. The tea house, communal space and the library just across the mosque enriches the gathering feature of this open space. The prayer hall reached directly from this level, a simple cave like space, becomes a dramatic and awe inspiring place to pray and be alone with God. The interior is simple where materials put forward themselves as they are, free from redundancies. The walls and the ceiling strengthen the feeling of purification and humbleness. The space may be defined as a meditation and thinking space. The only ornament seems to be the daylight that leaks from the Qiblah wall. The slits and fractures along this wall enhances the directionality of the prayer space. A very special element is the letter “waw” on the reflective black wall of infinity. Women are placed at an elevated and separated part of the hall and have the chance to pray just in the same row as the men, contrary to all other mosques. The complex includes the ablution halls and restrooms, that are adjacent, and the imam’s house.

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Status: Built
Location: Istanbul, TR