The best mosque design in the world in 2021
A non-profit organization showcasing design and architectural work, the Abdullatif Al-Fozan Prize, recently released a list of the best mosque designs in the world.
One of the buildings on the list is the Grand Mosque of West Sumatra, located in the city of Padang, West Sumatra. The award is an event that showcases the works and designs of mosques from Muslim-populated countries around the world.
The construction of the mosque began on December 27, 2007 and was completed on February 7, 2014, due to budget restrictions. The regional government, local people, private companies and even foreign governments have helped make this mosque a reality. The Saudi government provided US$50 million for the construction of the mosque in 2009; however, this coincided with the 2009 West Sumatra earthquakes. Thus, the funds were diverted to the rehabilitation of earthquake victims and the restoration of West Sumatra. The Turkish government then donated carpets to the mosque in 2014.
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Several factors contributed to help the Grand Mosque of West Sumatra win the best mosque design in the world in 2021. Quoting the Abdullatif Al-Fozan award Instagram account, the Grand Mosque of West Sumatra did not no dome like many other mosque designs. Instead, the roof of the mosque is designed in a rectangular, curved shape, with each corner rising skyward like a Roumah Gadang – a traditional Minangkabau house. The shape of the roof illustrates the laying of Hajar Aswad (black stone) using the Prophet Muhammad’s turban held by four chieftains of the Quraysh tribe at its corners in Mecca, Saudi Arabia. They disagreed on who had the right to move the black stone to its original location after the Kaaba was rebuilt.
The Grand Mosque of West Sumatra is located in a 40,343 square meter complex at the intersection of Jalan Khatib Sulaiman and Jalan Ahmad Dahlan. The construction of the building was designed to meet the geographical conditions of West Sumatra, an area repeatedly shaken by large earthquakes. It is supported by 631 piles with a pillar foundation with a diameter of 1.7 meters at a depth of 7.7 meters. Given its topographic condition in a marshy area, the depth of each foundation is not pegged because it adjusts the saturation point of the soil.
The main building consists of three floors. The main prayer hall is located on the second floor. The ground floor includes a prayer room, an ablution area and a parking lot. The mosque can accommodate 20,000 people. The designer of the Grand Mosque is Rizal Muslimin from the architectural office in Bandung, West Java, Urbane Indonesia (UI).
Looking at its interior, the mosque consists of the mihrab, Liwan (room or prayer room), and sahn (place of ablution). The mihrab section has a more modern design, which is an oval shape. In fact, the mihrab resembles the shape of black stone. It reminds me of Karim Rashid, a great designer renowned for his futuristic style. He often created designs similar to those of the mihrab of this mosque.
The Liwan mosque section looks very clean and solid due to the use of concrete and ceramic materials. The walls of the room are dominated by doors and windows with vertical holes that allow air to enter the room from the outside. There is the interior shape of the dome directly covering all the rooms on the ceiling. Although it does not show the shape of the dome on the outside, it can be seen inside the mosque. The ceiling is filled with Asmaul-Husna (99 names of Allah) in Arabic calligraphy and there is an arrangement of lamps hanging to form a circle on top of the ceiling in the middle of Liwan. This shows a modern form, making the traditional form, not visible from inside this mosque.
Theah in this mosque is designed in a very simple dark color. This place is designed to be open so that it is filled with fresh air. The ablution place is relatively modern and environmentally friendly judging by the use of a rainwater recycling system.
The architecture and interior of the Grand Mosque in West Sumatra is based on wooden materials with almost no glass. There are only circulation holes found in the carvings of the mosque walls, which are commonly found and used in a traditional Minangkabau house. This suggests that this mosque carries the eco-friendly concept of using nature as much as possible, also evidenced by the hall of the mosque which does not use an air conditioner.
When seen in the inner part of the room, it looks very different. The most important theme presented in this interior is modern and futuristic. This can be seen in the shape and the material used – marble, aluminium, garnet, etc. Basically, the architecture and interior design tries to combine traditional and modern concepts.
The Grand Mosque of West Sumatra has succeeded in integrating its purpose of an architectural structure that expresses its spirituality by adding elements of local culture. Despite being a place of worship, the uniqueness and splendor of the mosque has attracted many tourists.
The author is a lecturer at the Faculty of Human Sciences, Andalas University.