Nudes designs a mosque with a geometric façade built of computational tools

The Mumbai-based studio’s design of a mosque and community space draws inspiration from a key element of traditional Islamic architecture.

by Zohra KhanPublished on : Jan 31, 2022

Mumbai-based cross-disciplinary studio Nudes has interpreted the traditional Islamic architectural element of Mashrabiya in the design of a 2850 sqm mosque located in the northern suburbs of the Indian city. The project known as the Ismaili Jamatkhana and Community Centre "explores the relationship between light, Islamic geometric patterns, and the built form". Helmed by architect and founder of Nudes, Nuru Karim, computation design tools have been employed to create intricate machined geometries and an experiential space.

The mosque is located in the northern suburbs of Mumbai, India | Nudes | Mumbai | STIRworld
The mosque is located in the northern suburbs of Mumbai, India Image: Nazim Lokhandwala

A rectilinear volume in an all-white skin, the building is entered via a skylit foyer. The design features three programmatic areas: religious, social, and educational. The prayer hall is on the first floor; the space spills onto a landscaped garden formed by the cantilevered entrance canopy below. The social and educational activities are kept on the ground floor and these too get transferred on the landscaped greens outside. 

  • The façade of the mosque reveals an intricate pattern of geometric openings | Nudes | Mumbai | STIRworld
    The façade of the mosque reveals an intricate pattern of geometric openings Image: Nazim Lokhandwala
  • Entrance | Nudes | Mumbai | STIRworld
    Entrance Image: Nazim Lokhandwala

The façade design reveals intricate geometric patterns in varying degrees of aperture scales. Speaking of how Mashrabiya plays a key role in the project, Karim tells STIR, “The Mashrabiyas have been explored as three dimensional filters that transmit and radiate light through patterns inspired by Islamic geometries.[…] Computational design tools were instrumental in the creation of these intricate screens with varying degrees of control.”

  • The façade screen is an interpretation of the traditional Mashrabiya – an element characteristic of Islamic Architecture | Nudes | Mumbai | STIRworld
    The façade screen is an interpretation of the traditional Mashrabiya – an element characteristic of Islamic Architecture Image: Nazim Lokhandwala
  • A drawing showing the pattern development of the façade screen | Nudes | Mumbai | STIRworld
    A drawing showing the pattern development of the façade screen Image: Courtesy of Nudes
  • Elevations | Nudes | Mumbai | STIRworld
    Elevations Image: Courtesy of Nudes

Mashrabiya is a type of an oriel window characterised for its decorative and environmentally responsive features. A projecting enclosure of wooden latticework appearing since the Middle Ages in Arabic and Islamic architecture, its formative functionality was to cool water stored in earthen pots. With time the functionality evolved and Mashrabiya became popular for two key roles: on one side it controlled the ingress of sunlight and facilitated natural ventilation and micro-climate cooling in the interiors, the other allowed people to retain their contact with the outside world while keep their presence private.

Karim says, “The Mashrabiyas are also adorned with differentiated geometrical patterns with varying sizes of apertures based on the internal program and solar radiation incident on the building,” adding that these screens were created using CNC digital fabrication whereas the overall structure is an RCC framing system.

At night, light interacting with the façade geometries creates an interesting image of the building | Nudes | Mumbai | STIRworld
At night, light interacting with the façade geometries creates an interesting image of the building Image: Nazim Lokhandwala

Nudes kept the predominantly white on white colour scheme to connect with the typology of the architectural program and its spiritual notion. “White also reveals intricate machined geometries in interesting light and shadow patterns,” he says. It took the studio 36 months to complete the project.

Karim, whose practice sits on the cross-roads of art, architecture, and computational design, seeks to unravel complex and layered nuances of the contemporary city. Bringing innovative solutions around the themes of environment and climate change, education, and alternative resources, the studio under his leadership has garnered critical recognition for both built and conceptual works that reveal experimental applications around materiality, tectonics, and green architecture. Previous projects by him featured on STIR include a café made of cardboard, a school conceptualised using straw bales, and a sustainable wooden pavilion for bookworms.

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