Basuna Mosque (Al-Abu Stait)

Al Abu Stait Mosque by Dar Arafa Architecture, Waleed Arafa
Basuna Village in Suhaj, Egypt
2019

Photos by: Essam Arafa

For 300 years the Abu Stait Mosque has been Basuna’s main mosque. It was built and rebuilt a couple of times. The latest building was completed 70 years ago, on the very same plot in the center of the village, adjacent to the village’s graveyard serving as the main Friday Mosque and the only funerary mosque in the entire village. A flash-flood and a soil subsidence caused by the construction of a neighboring building, inflicted considerable structural damage rendering the mosque unsafe, and so it had to be demolished.

The new design attempts to increase the capacity of the mosque in terms of the numbers of the worshippers, as well as in the quality of spaces and services.

The main goal was to also bring forth an element of inclusivity, by introducing praying spaces and services for female worshippers, for the first time in the entire village.

The location of the Al Abu Stait Mosque in the hot and arid village of Basuna, in the governorate of Suhaj, Upper Egypt, over a site amidst a noisy, dusty and densely constructed area with encroaching residential buildings, a cemetery, cattle frequently moving back and forth on the road and a weekly makeshift small market right outside the main entrance of this place of worship posed a major challenge. The new building must offer peace and tranquillity for its users and so a few requirements had to be met:

a) Climate control
b) Noise control
c) Dust and undesired odors (caused by farming animals passing in the street)
d) Urban context and aesthetics
e) Budget
f) Access during construction

Approaching every challenge separately made it impossible to arrive at a satisfactory solution. For example, if operable windows were used on the exterior to allow for cross-ventilation that would have meant a poor performance on the fronts of noise, dust and odor control.

The decision was to limit openings to the main entrance, while having the openings at the level.

Budget constraints and limited or no machine-accessibility meant that any solution had to depend mainly on manpower and simple tools.

The solution was a hybrid roof system; consisting of a concrete beam gridiron, cast in situ, forming a central square (6.0×6.0m) covered with a main dome, and 108 smaller squares (0.82 x 0.82m) partially covered using pendentive-domes, complemented with fixed and operable glass panels allowing natural filtered light and ventilation for low-cost enhanced thermal comfort.

The entrance dome is a stacked dome, referencing the historical dome of the Cordoba Grand Mosque, with minor modifications. It serves as a reminder of the rich potential of historical architecture in both the architectural discourse and construction innovations.

This project presents a hybrid roof system utilizing brick and block masonry, aiming to introduce innovative, energy efficient, economic, sustainable and aesthetically creative solutions. It is an attempt towards a new resilient and meaningful architectural paradigm, which seeks to learn from the past in order to create relevant innovations for the future. The entrance dome is a stacked dome, referencing the historical dome of the Cordoba Grand Mosque, with minor modifications. It serves as a reminder of the rich potential of historical architecture in both the architectural discourse and construction innovations.

This project presents a hybrid roof system utilizing brick and block masonry, aiming to introduce innovative, energy efficient, economic, sustainable and aesthetically creative solutions. It is an attempt towards a new resilient and meaningful architectural paradigm, which seeks to learn from the past in order to create relevant innovations for the future.

Project’s info

Project name: Basuna Mosque (Al-Abu Stait)
Architecture Firm: Dar Arafa Architecture – Waleed Arafa
Completion Year: 2019
Gross Built Area: 450 sqm
Project location: Basuna, al-Maraghah- Sohag, Egypt


Drawings and plans:

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