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This New Mosque in Kuwait Brings Back Mamluk Egypt — With a Contemporary Twist

 PROJECTS


Babnimnim Design Studio crafts a narrative for the Mamluki Lancet Mosque that plays on the idea of dualities — of the spiritual and the material, and of tradition and modernity.


By Shivani V K

12 March 2024



The Mamluki Lancet Mosque in Al-Masayel, Kuwait, designed by Babnimnim Design Studio (BNN) | Image by Mohammed Ashkanani; Courtesy of Babnimnim Design Studio


The recently completed Mamluki Lancet Mosque in Al-Masayel, Kuwait, designed by local practice Babnimnim Design Studio (BNN) presents a striking narrative that marries the rich history of Mamluk architecture and Islamic symbolism with contemporary design. Nestled within a residential enclave, the mosque serves not only as a sacred sanctuary but also as a space that nurtures a sense of community within its neighborhood. "Places of worship should be simply designed and structured to radiate peace and tranquility,” says BNN founding partner Jassim Alsaddah explaining the studio’s design approach, “as these features reflect the purity of Islam."



A Conversation Between Deen & Duniya

The central idea behind the design of the mosque is the conversation between deen and duniya — the spiritual and the material. Following a straightforward plan of a prayer hall facing the qibla (the direction towards the Kaaba in the Great Mosque of Mecca used by Muslims as the direction of prayer) the building slowly begins to rise above functional requirements and towards expressive architecture as it moves up the y-axis. 



The layered structure rationalizes the alignment of the base with the qibla and the topmost mass with the site's orientation | Image by Mohammed Ashkanani; Courtesy of Babnimnim Design Studio


A contemporary play on the muqarnas (a form of ornamentation used in Islamic architecture to rationalize a square base topped by a dome) five stacked, rotating masses, also symbolizing the Five Pillars of Islam, ascend above the central space to meet a half dome that caps the structure. While the base mass is in alignment with Mecca, the final one aligns with the geometry of the site, invoking the dual nature of human existence as it oscillates between the spiritual and material realms. 



The column-free interiors with an unobstructed line of sight to the mihrab | Image by Mohammed Alsaad, Nasser Alomairi; Courtesy of Babnimnim Design Studio 


This geometric configuration also allows for an entirely column-free interior space of 1160 square meters, which can accommodate around 600 people with an unobstructed line of sight to the mihrab (a niche in the wall of a mosque that indicates the qibla).


Sacred Geometry in a Modern Guise 

While the plan of the central space emerged as a direct result of functional requirements and the orientation towards the qibla, the architects overlaid the primary mass with another mass, creating the popular Islamic symbol Rub el Hizb when viewed from above. This also results in additional quarters that act as lateral entrances into the prayer hall. The half dome that tops the building features another Islamic symbol on its exposed face, a striking crescent moon in engraved metal work. 



The design creates the popular Islamic symbol Rub el Hizb when viewed from above | Image by Mohammed Ashkanani; Courtesy of Babnimnim Design Studio