Encircled by lush greeneries alongside a calm water body, Kendrua Jame Mosque radiates an aura of a sanctum in the middle of an oasis. The design approach of the mosque is a skilful response to the location, the landscape, materials available, and equally importantly, the experience created.
The Kendrua Jame Mosque is located in Kanchon, on the outskirt of Dhaka. Being a Muslim majority nation, Bangladesh has numerous mosques all over the country, to say the least. Many beautiful, unique architectures are unheard of among these uncountable, similarly designed mosques. Established in 2015, The Kendrua Jame Mosque is one such Mosque. The minimal design approach of the mosque by the Dzignscape Architecten Studio has created a sacred structure that stands out aesthetically pleasingly in its setting.
The mosque consists of a total area of about 20 Katha, providing a space for nearly 800 worshippers to congregate. The planning of the mosque reflects the essence of Mughal mosques, which often had a central courtyard around which prayer spaces were built. These spaces were usually arched or heavily collonaded to hold the structure, dividing the areas. The planning of this mosque has been developed in that manner but maintaining a free-flowing, column-free prayer space throughout the mosque. This has been made possible due to the technical advances available in this era.
A mosque’s primary function is to pray for Salat-al-Jamaat, but many other activities are involved within a mosque. The architect has shared a common scenario seen in a mosque where Imam and Hujurs recite Surahs after prayer, read Quran and perform Zikir; kids learn and recite Quran with their teachers, and locals gather together to discuss Hadith. He wanted to incorporate these activities around a central courtyard; the kids and their teachers can sit beside the enclosure and recite Quran while experiencing the divine daylight.
Refusing the typical modern practice of closing off a space and artificially illuminating and air conditioning it, the Kendrua Jame Mosque has been designed to wholeheartedly embrace natural light and ventilation. The mosque is blessed with a pond on the southern end. The presence of this waterbody has been used to full advantage by keeping the north-south facades open, allowing the south summer breeze to flow through the mosque. The courtyard further enhances this generosity, allowing the mosque to be naturally ventilated throughout the year.
This mosque’s design is similar to that of any traditional homestead of Bangladesh, where each house has a pond adjacent to it and a central or semi-central courtyard, making these houses self-sustained and naturally ventilated.
An emphasis on natural light is created through the fins that wrap the northern and southern openings, producing a diffused effect that gives the interior an ethereal sense of brightness while also aiding airflow to ventilate the mosque naturally. The design of these fins has been adapted from those of the mosques of Madina. The worshippers can have an experience as if they were praying in the Holy land of Madina.
A height of almost 20 feet graces the prayer hall, and the mosque is adorned by a semicircular dome at the top, such as that of a Sultanate mosque.
The uninterrupted length and notable height of the prayer hall provide a celestial beauty and the white interior makes the ambience seem bright, clear, and pure.
Apart from spaces for prayer, the architectural program of the mosque includes social functions and service zones, including ablution spaces, segregated gender-specific access to perform required ablutions before prayer, and Imam and Muazzin’s accommodation. There is a separate entry and prayer space designated for females in the north-eastern part of the Mosque.
Md. Ehsanul Karim is the founder and key architect of Dzignscape Architecten Studio. Dzignscape Architecten Studio is a 20-year-old Dhaka-based design firm working on various sections of architecture, including residential, commercial, industrial, and interior work. The design value of their work is to build the architecture modest yet remarkable.