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Design focus: Aldar’s Al Dana Mosque in Abu Dhabi

Designed by X-Architects, Aldar Properties’ new mosque planned for Abu Dhabi draws inspiration from Islamic architecture and the natural landscape of the UAE

The proposed design for Al Dana Mosque celebrates both male and female prayer halls equally [image: X-Architects].
The proposed design for Al Dana Mosque celebrates both male and female prayer halls equally [image: X-Architects].

Located in Al Dana North, within Al Raha beach development in the UAE capital of Abu Dhabi, Al Dana Mosque was designed by Dubai-based X-Architects. The structure is intended to become a landmark for the surrounding community.

The client brief from Aldar Properties outlined objectives such as creating an uplifting, spiritual space that would cater to the practical needs of worshippers while remaining in keeping with 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.

With a built-up area of 2,200m2, the mosque’s plot is located on a public seaside promenade facing the marina, allowing for a context-inspired design that maintains harmony with the immediate surroundings. According to the architects, the formal language of the mosque derives from a contemporary interpretation of traditional Islamic architecture.

“The proposed design for Al Dana Mosque celebrates both male and female prayer halls equally,” says Ahmed Al-Ali, the 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 an annex or extension. The proposal draws attention to gender equality from a practical point of view. In fact, this is vividly reflected in the form and mass articulation of the mosque.”

READ: Abu Dhabi's Aldar reports 11.4% decline in H1 2018 net profit

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 shines outward. During the day, the high oculus brings daylight into the spaces, spotlighting the interior floors in different patterns depending on the time of day, and “forming a spiritual connection between the earthly interior and the heavenly skies”. 

Al Dana Mosque was also designed with an emphasis on energy saving. Elements like oculi, wall perforations, and natural light filtration are some of the building’s sustainability measures.

“Our approach to the design was experimental and exploratory in nature,” says 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.” 

He adds: “The end result 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 a public space as well as a religious space, with the plaza – inspired by a traditional Sahn or courtyard – serving as a connection. According to senior architect,  Yazeed Obeid, the project is “a landscape intervention that connects the two levels of the site and eases people’s movement, connecting them to the promenade and sea”. 

READ: Aldar makes headway on several Abu Dhabi-based projects

“The design aligns with the Abu Dhabi Public Realm Guidelines,” Obeid says, adding that it will achieve an Estidama 2-Pearl rating. “This is obtained through numerous measures – one of which is the planting of 10 species [of plant] that correspond to the region’s climatic and environmental constraints. These measures will ensure the site, as well as the building, will grow gracefully and give back to its surrounding,” he adds. 

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. 

This story was compiled by Rima Alsammarae for Middle East Architect.

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Construction Week - Issue 764
May 31, 2020