The Islamic city and the endless grid
A project by George Katodrytis and Mi Chang
Situated near Al Nasser Square in Dubai’s Deira neighborhood, a contemporary brick mosque stands in contrast to a dense fabric of high-rise residential towers. A stepped façade underlines the importance of the west side of the building that faces Mecca. The mosque is unique in Dubai as it eschews iconic expression and contemporary interpretations of Orientalism that characterize architecture in the city. The subdued building and the small adjacent plaza reveal the influence that Islam has in everyday life, on the pattern of inhabitation and use of spaces. The Qu’ran describes paradise as a garden that is promised to true believers and, given the importance attributed to gardens, this project focuses on a small garden adjacent to the mosque.
Dubai has been subject to successive master plans initiated since 1959; however, the notion of “planning” has been challenged by the freedom of spirit of the inhabitants of this harsh environment. The contemporary city has a double character that is contemporary yet Islamic. The project proposes a floating abstract volume with adaptive surface opacity, a supersurface. This endless space acts both as a “garden” that is perceived as infinite and as a prayer space extending the interior of the mosque into the city. Acting as a public “commons” and transition space, the project remains undefined architecturally while making space for formal rituals and informal interactions. The project is boundary-less, a diagram of unfolded events, a collage machine that brings diverse populations together for the purposes of worship and reflection.