Sancaklar Mosque

by | 13. Dec 2015

Project | Religious
Sancaklar Mosque aims to address the fundamental issues of designing a mosque by distancing itself from the current architectural discussions based on form and focusing solely on the essence of religious space.
/Emre Arolat Architects
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Photo © Cemal Emden

By Kirsten Kiser

The Sancaklar Mosque is located in Buyukçekmece, a suburban neighborhood on the outskirts of Istanbul.

The high walls surrounding the park on the upper courtyard depicts a clear boundary between the chaotic outer world, and the serene atmosphere of the public park.

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Photo © Thomas Mayer

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Photo © Cemal Emden

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Photo © Cemal Emden

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Photo © Cemal Emden

The long canopy stretching out from the park, and a vertical prismatic mass of stone (minaret), becomes the only architectural element visible from the outside.

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Photo © Thomas Mayer

The building, located below the canopy, blends in completely with the topography and can be accessed from a path from the upper courtyard through the park. As one moves through the landscape, down the hill, and in between the walls to enter the mosque, the outside world is left behind.

The interior of the mosque is a simple cave like space with walls of concrete and slate. The concrete ceiling is shaped like contour lines on a topographic map. The only ornament is the daylight that enters from the slits and fractures along the Qiblah wall, changing according to the time of day. A black painted glass wall, with a piece of modern calligraphy, reflects the image of the space.
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Photo © Thomas Mayer

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Photo © Thomas Mayer

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Photo © Thomas Mayer

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Photo © Thomas Mayer


Women are separated from the men by a perforated metal screen. This is the first time in mosque architecture women can pray in the same row as the men.

The teahouse, communal space and library, are situated across from the mosque in the open space. Also included in the complex are the adjacent ablution halls and restrooms as well as the imam’s house from where he can reach the hall directly.
The project constantly plays off of the tension between man-made and natural. The contrast between the natural stone stairs following the natural slope of the landscape and the thin reinforced concrete slab spanning over 6 meters to form the canopy helps enhance this dual relationship.
/Emre Arolat Architects

This is any place where you prostrate.

It is clean.

It has been built with the motto of humility.

It neither boasts of its form nor does it swell with its own image.

It does not interfere with the Creator and His people through its grandeur.

It avoids that.

It rather seeks the hidden essence behind the form.

It lightly touches upon the earth.

It becomes almost one with both the hill and the valley through its surface borrowed from nature.

It looks as if it had always been there.

The interior is as plain as its exterior.

It does not adorn; neither does it scream like so many others.

Like I said, it is modest.

Its only decoration is the light that washes the Kıblah wall.

A wise man said, “I want to pray here as soon as possible” when he saw the first sketches.

This sincere wish made me so happy.

I hope all believers become happy when they pray in awe here.

/Emre Arolat, Architect. April, 2013
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Sketch.  Drawing courtesy EAA-Emre Arolat Architects

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Site.  Drawing courtesy EAA-Emre Arolat Architects

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Plan.  Drawing courtesy EAA-Emre Arolat Architects

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Sections.  Drawing courtesy EAA-Emre Arolat Architects


ARCHITECTEAA-Emre Arolat Architects
Emre Arolat