When the existing Mawson Road mosque began to experience capacity issues, there was planning for a new mosque began in 2007. Marks Barfield Architects won a limited international competition through Cambridge Mosque with the concept of the mosque as a calm oasis within a grove of trees. It is the UK’s first green mosque with an awesome timber structure.
A limited international competition was held and it calling for innovative ideas for a 1000 capacity mosque that is socially and sustainable and architecturally integrated into and also respectful of its surrounding neighborhood. This competition was held to announce Islam’s presence in Cambridge as a cultural and spiritual center for Muslims and the wider community.
The architect won the competition in 2009 by introducing the concept of the mosque as a calm oasis within a grove of trees. There is also a link between the Islamic and local that expressed through the natural world. Mosques around the world have adapted to their vernacular, cultural and climatic conditions, and local building materials for centuries. The architect is also inspired by Islamic and English religious architectural traditions and starts to develop the idea of a British Mosque for the 21st century.
The timber structure is the defining feature of this mosque while the timber columns reach up to support the mosque roof, using an interlaced octagonal lattice vault structure evocative of English Gothic fan vaulting that used at the Kings College Chapel, Cambridge nearby. This timber comes from the spruce which is laminated and also curved.
Located above the trees, the roof lights create a prayer hall bathed in beautiful light. The external walls of the mosque are clad in tiles of the traditional Gault color with castellated parapets. These castellated parapets symbolize the meeting of earth and heaven.
The visitors and worshippers can take a wonderful journey from the street through an Islamic garden into an atrium and to a covered patio. They can prepare in a gradual transition for the contemplation of the prayer hall that orientated towards Mecca.
Cambridge Mosque Gallery
Photography: Morley von Sternberg