Zebun Nessa Mosque / Studio Morphogenesis

Zebun Nessa Mosque / Studio Morphogenesis

Zebun Nessa Mosque / Studio Morphogenesis

Zebun Nessa Mosque / Studio Morphogenesis - Exterior Photography, Windows

Text description provided by the architects. A monolithic pink concrete mosque finds its location at the edge of an existing waterbody amidst a fast-growing industrial area on the outskirts of Dhaka City. The mosque is designed as a Permeable Pavilion that establishes a deeper connection between water and land, which serves as both a spiritual and breathing space within an industrial compound. The owner of the industry wanted to build a mosque for the workers to commemorate the memory of his late mother in the hope of inducing softness within the harsh industrial area. This narrative inspires the architect to design the mosque as a spiritual-social space, enhancing mutual care and trust between the owner and the workers.

Zebun Nessa Mosque / Studio Morphogenesis - Exterior Photography, Brick, Facade
Zebun Nessa Mosque / Studio Morphogenesis - Image 33 of 36
Zebun Nessa Mosque / Studio Morphogenesis - Interior Photography

The mosque incorporates elements that allow for filtered natural light and ventilation, creating a “breathing pavilion”. The mosque features a simple yet effective design, with a monolithic mass situated on a high plinth, reminiscent of the vernacular house forms built on ‘Bhiti’ (mound) in the deltaic landform of Bangladesh. The plan of the mosque evolves from simple geometric shapes, with a square surrounding a circular volume, to create four enclosed gardens that serve as light courts on each side. The outer square volume melts into subtle curves in the east and west directions to interact with the site forces. The northeast hanging corner of the curve wall defines the main entry, facing the existing node of the two main internal roads of the industrial compound. The thick concrete walls are perforated with small rectangular voids. Filtered light seeping through the voids resembles hanging lanterns of old mosques.

Zebun Nessa Mosque / Studio Morphogenesis - Interior Photography

The double-layered thick walls create a microclimatic atmosphere within the mosque, ensuring thermal comfort. Sunlight plays inside the garden courts along the ‘jaali’ openings and reflects into the interior spaces while the heat dissipates from the interior. Being in a hot and humid climate, the mosque is designed and encouraged to be a true naturally ventilated space where a cool breeze passes through all openings coming from the outside natural waterbody that flows across the sequence of constructed water-pool to the interior prayer hall to outdoor elevated plinth surface. The doors and other thresholds are all made with perforated metal sheets to ensure a filtered flow of wind during the heavy monsoon. All these features establish the very idea of a ‘breathing pavilion,’ a deeply rooted architecture form of this tropical climate.

Zebun Nessa Mosque / Studio Morphogenesis - Interior Photography
Zebun Nessa Mosque / Studio Morphogenesis - Image 34 of 36
Zebun Nessa Mosque / Studio Morphogenesis - Image 13 of 36

A shallow, thin shell dome levitates over the perforated curve walls, elevating the singular interiority of the prayer hall. The floating dome evokes the structural ingenuity of covering large space without intermediate supports manifested through the chronological development of mosque architecture in the Islamic world.

Zebun Nessa Mosque / Studio Morphogenesis - Exterior Photography, Brick, Facade
Zebun Nessa Mosque / Studio Morphogenesis - Exterior Photography, Brick, Arch, Arcade

Unlike solid qibla walls in conventional mosques, the qibla of this mosque is defined by a wide arched opening on the subtle curved western wall. A reflective waterbody connects the turquoise mosaiced interior through the arched opening to the existing pond, allowing the prayer space to flow seamlessly towards a light-filled infinity. The mosque is devoid of any glass surface except for the translucent glass mihrab, which is placed on the shallow water body. The glass mihrab is uniquely handcrafted on-site using local glass pieces.

Zebun Nessa Mosque / Studio Morphogenesis - Exterior Photography, Brick
Zebun Nessa Mosque / Studio Morphogenesis - Exterior Photography, Brick

The southeast courtyard of the mosque holds a perforated metal stair connecting to the crescent-shaped upper floor, which is preserved for female workers of the industrial complex. The space serves both as a meeting and prayer space for the women. A ‘Chhatim’ tree is planted near the stairs to make the space filled with fragrance at the time of full bloom. Participating in the mosque activities caters to a sense of empowerment and belongingness among the female workers in the industry. 

Zebun Nessa Mosque / Studio Morphogenesis - Exterior Photography, Brick
Zebun Nessa Mosque / Studio Morphogenesis - Image 35 of 36

The ablution area is designed to induce a sense of spirituality during the act of purification before performing the prayer. The rustic pink mosaic floor becomes turquoise representing tranquility. The turquoise and pink mosaic with carefully laid broken brick pieces reflects the mastery of age-old craftsmanship where the use of these colors connects with the collective memories of the users. The used ablution water is recycled and reused to water the garden plants.

Zebun Nessa Mosque / Studio Morphogenesis - Interior Photography

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