The Architecture of the Mosque: Historical Roots and Modern Influences

Language English
Start Date 03/06/2021
Duration 0 weeks
Effort 2 hours
Level Entry Level

This open online course focuses on the architecture of the contemporary mosque. Since the mosque is a historically defined building type, however, the course also will provide an overview of its historical evolution over the course of the millennium extending from the birth of Islam until the mid-seventeenth century. This will be followed by the impacts of Westernization and modernization on its architecture beginning in the mid-eighteenth century. The course will then present initial attempts dating back to the 1950s that aimed at designing mosques that are more rooted in contemporary architectural practices rather than being defined by historical prototypes. Beginning with mosques designed since the 1970s, the course will focus on ones that have received the Aga Khan Award for Architecture and that have been shortlisted for it.

All in all, the course presents over thirty mosques covering a wide geographic expanse that includes East Asia, the Indian Subcontinent, Iran, Turkey, the Arab World, Western Africa, and Europe.

The course is intended for architects, students of architecture, and to those interested in architecture in general.

What You Will Learn

  • The overall development of the mosque from the birth of Islam to the present.
  • The development of mosque architecture during the early centuries of Islam, specifically the hypostyle mosque, which spread across vast geographic areas.
  • The development of the mosque-type known as the four-iwan mosque and examples of it from Iran and Egypt that date from the twelfth to the seventeenth centuries.
  • The central-dome mosque, specifically imperial Ottoman mosques that date to the sixteenth century.
  • Mosques from the early-modern period dating from the early eighteenth to the early twentieth centuries that show the appearance of European / Western influences.
  • Mosques belonging to the second half of the twentieth century. This period features the emergence of the modern traditional mosque characterized by an emphasis on establishing architectural connections to historical prototypes, and also the modernist mosque, which is characterized by an emphasis on connecting the architecture of the mosque with contemporary architectural approaches.
  • The mosques that have received the Aga Khan Award for Architecture (and a few mosques that have been shortlisted for it) since the establishment of the Award in 1980 and until the end of the twentieth century. These mosques represent overall approaches to the architectural design of the mosque from different parts of the world during that period.
  • The mosques that have received the Aga Khan Award for Architecture (and a few mosques that have been shortlisted for it) during the twenty-first century. These mosques represent overall approaches to the architectural design of the mosque from different parts of the world during the past two decades.

Instructors and Team

Mohammad al-Asad
Mohammad al-Asad

Mohammad al-Asad is an architect and urbanist, as well as an architectural and urban historian, and the Founding Director of the Center for the Study of the Built Environment (CSBE) in Amman. He studied architecture at the University of Illinois and history of architecture at Harvard University. He held post-doctoral research positions at Harvard and at the Institute for Advanced Study in Princeton. He has taught at Harvard, Princeton University, the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, the University of Illinois, the University of Jordan, and the German Jordanian University. He also has delivered two open online courses prior to this one. He has published in both Arabic and English on the architecture of the Islamic world. He is the author of Contemporary Architecture and Urbanism in the Middle East (2012), editor of Workplaces: The Transformation of Places of Production: Industrial Buildings in the Islamic World (2010), and co-editor (with Rahul Mehrotra) of Shaping Cities: Emerging Models of Planning Practice (2016). He is also the author of one of the chapters of the 21st edition of the standard architectural textbook Sir Banister Fletcher’s A History of Architecture (2019), which first appeared in 1896. He has appeared in documentary films such as Islamic Art: Mirror of the Invisible World (2011), and has taken part in producing documentaries such as Arab Women in Architecture (2013). He was a technical reviewer of the Aga Khan Award for Architecture between 1989 and 2007, and a member of its Steering Committee from 2007 to 2019.

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