Prayer Halls born out of Rock Formations in “Al Musallah”

CEBRA architecture

The mosque In the center of the modern metropolis Abu Dhabi lies the city’s oldest and most important building, the Qasr Al Hosn Fort.

The Musallah stands in water to create a subtle privacy barrier without using walls, which provides calm and secluded spaces for prayer without visual disturbances. 

At the same time, the water is used as a symbol of spiritual purification flowing around and in between the interior functions. 
The geometric shapes of the landscape and buildings are mirrored in the interior.

The individual spaces are connected by glass tubes bridging over water, which symbolically purifies the mind when moving through the light-filled passages from one area to the next. 

Each volume contains its own function, where female and male worshippers respectively progress along a sequence of spaces that create an immersive spiritual experience.

The experience refers to the Cave of Hira, where Prophet Muhammed received his first revelation.

The prayer halls are orientated in the qibla direction, while a concrete relief with inscriptions appears on one of the rock volumes, visible through a window that is concealed from the outside.

The circular holes let in daylight and are combined with suspended pendants. Together, they appear as abstract star formations that evoke associations to faith as well as to the Bedouins’ traditional star gazing for navigation. 

The entrance halls and ablution spaces contain concrete skylights, the insides in the prayer halls are clad with copper, which creates endless reflections of light symbolizing the cosmos and linking the ceiling detail back into the overall scheme of the project like a fractal. And, it illustrates how man has always looked up into the skies, wondering and reflecting on one’s own existence.

Project Info:

Architect: CEBRA architecture
Client: Department of Culture and Tourism Abu Dhabi (DCT)
Size: 140.000 m² masterplan, 1.100 m² Musallah
Landscape architect: CEBRA architecture
Engineer: GHD
Conservation Management Plan: ProDenkmal
Plant specialist: SLA architects
Signage and wayfinding: Kossmann.dejong

About the Designer: CEBRA architecture

CEBRA is both young and experienced Danish architectural design practice, based in Aarhus and in Abu Dhabi. CEBRA was founded in 2001 by architects Mikkel Frost, Carsten Primdahl and Kolja Nielsen and currently employs an international and multidisciplinary staff of 50 at our offices in Aarhus, DK and in Abu Dhabi, UAE.

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