RUX Design has turned traditional mosque design on its head with their competition winning proposal for the Vanishing Mosque. Instead of a specific single-use building for religious purposes, the New York City-based firm decided to create a dual purpose, open-air mosque that can serve as both a spiritual space as well as a public plaza. This way, mosque becomes fully integrated into the fabric of the city and the community increasing the value of surrounding buildings. Energy use is practically eliminated since the mosque is open-air and naturally daylit.
The Vanishing Mosque won first place in the international design competition, Design as Reform 2010 for the UAE in the Mosque Category. RUX Design strips down the concept of a mosque as a building and transforms it into a place that can have multiple functions, serving the community as a whole even better. The concept for the Vanishing Mosque is more of a “developer’s toolbox” than a design for a specific location and calls for the creation of a public plaza, walled in by surrounding buildings used for retail, commercial, office or even residential space.
The design for the Vanishing Mosque calls for four main elements to make the public plaza work as a mosque, and includes orienting the public plaza and the surrounding buildings and streets in the direction of Mecca (Qibla). Then columns are sized and scaled in order to create the optical illusion of infinity in the viewers direction. Light plays a major role in the open-air plaza and is reflected off the white columns and contrasted with the dark arches. Retractable awnings can be used to provide shade during the hot times of the day and opened at night to release heat into the air. Finally an abulation pool is located under the raised prayer plinth and serves a cool area for relaxation and for cleansing.
With the mosque located in a public plaza surrounded by bustling urban activity, the mosque is deeply connected to the surrounding community. And since the mosque is located out-of-doors, little energy is required for lighting or cooling.