A planning application for the proposed new mosque in Cambridge has been submitted to Cambridge City Council.
Designed by a team led by Marks Barfield Architects and including Prof. Keith Critchlow (artist), Jacobs (structure), Skelly and Couch (services), Emma Clark (landscape), and Bidwells (project management and planning), the proposed mosque will allow the downsizing of the existing overcrowded facility, housed in a former chapel on Mawson Road, which is no longer physically capable of accommodating Cambridge’s growing Muslim community.
Located a few hundred yards from the current mosque, the design of the new structure strives for an English idiom while drawing inspiration from the natural world, and acknowledging Islamic art as a living tradition - without resorting to clichéd English or Islamic references.
On entering from the street, visitors will experience a gradual transition through a garden, a covered portico, and an atrium, until they reach the main prayer hall which is oriented towards Mecca. Trees give way to a covered space around a fountain, and then to the mosque itself, a private, inner space which soars to a height of three stories.
The enclosing diaphragm walls are faced in local gault brick and step back from the building perimeter up to the central prayer hall. Sixteen interlaced glue-laminated timber columns, evocative of English fan vaulting or Islamic arabesque, support the geometrical roof of the inner sanctuary. Glass oculi above the columns bathe the interior in natural light. A golden dome rises above the mihrab and minbar. In hours of darkness, high-efficiency LCD lights provide a soft but effective luminescence.
The site also accommodates a community kitchen and café, teaching rooms, two residential units and an underground car park for 80 vehicles. As Britain’s first ‘eco-mosque’, the structure is highly energy-efficient, with heat pumps, heat recovery systems, water recycling, and green roofs ensuring a minimal carbon footprint, emphasizing humanity’s role as a responsible custodian of creation. The building will act as an oasis surrounded by cypress trees. The prayer hall will have a capacity of up to 1,000 people.
The design of the proposed Cambridge mosque celebrates the miracle of nature and subtly expresses the mathematical order which underlies it.
On behalf of the Trust, Chairman Tim Winter said:
‘We have spent time consulting with the local community and local stakeholders to ensure this building will be truly inclusive, sustainable, safe, secure and respectful of its context. It will be easily accessible by public transport and on foot, and will have its own underground car park with 80 car parking spaces, supported by a travel plan which ensures that car parking does not become an issue for local neighbours. Our hope is that this will become a landmark building which will inject new life into the Romsey area of Cambridge, a monument of which the local and wider Cambridge community can be proud’