“Honesty, transparency, and openness bring peace of mind.”- Dalai Lama. Inspired by this very belief, Shaer Mohammad Para Jame Mosque takes the form of an open and transparent space where people can find peace and be honest with their inner self while relating with their surroundings. Principal Architect of 3 Points Consultant, Tapon Kanti Sarker with his team, Md. Architect Tanveer Hasan, Architect Md. Mithu Hossain and Structure Engineer Mohammad Kowsur Hasan designed the mosque that walks between the spiritual line of life and the infinite life hereafter and captures the essence of regional architecture of the coastal region in its formal expression.
Covering an area of 6650 sft, Shaer Mohammad Para Jame Mosque serves the people on the remote coast of West Raichota, Banshkhali which is almost 40 km south of Chittagong. M A Sabur took the initiative to build the mosque when it became an essential demand as the single-story, almost 35 years old mosque was severely affected by floods several times and lost its usability. Due to this very adverse challenge of being flood-prone, the newly designed mosque stands on a raised platform and also serves as a frontal plaza used for additional prayer space and social activity. An existing two-story Koumi Madrasa and a family graveyard in the south, and another graveyard in the north along with a pond on the west surrounds the mosque and opens up for entry on the east side with a green space that is used as a playfield for the Madrasa students and an additional space for Eid Jamat.
The small pond that existed on this site was replaced on the north with a larger one along with an additional ghat for performing ablution and taking baths. The whole mosque is linearly connected with front and rear entry on the east and west respectively while a double-height volume with a glass roof over the area for Imam and mihrab visually connects the upper level with the lower. This double-height space with a glass roof invites sky and rain and creates a sense of the middle of the limit and infinite. A large open main hall and wide-open windows flood the space with daylight and ensure cross-ventilation that lightens up the whole premise and brings about transparency. Even though the space allows daylight, the glare is cleverly controlled through repetitive vertical walls, acting as fins. The consciously designed geometric pattern of the jali (perforated) wall is created with continuous flipping of the custom-made R.C.C. blocks. The jali pattern itself is an abstract expression of Islamic beliefs of the Five pillars of Islam, five times prayer in a day and five Kalimas.
The significance of the number ‘five’ is reflected in each block designed with five arms around a pentagon with another five holes.
The playfulness of the beautiful texture of light and shadows through jali adds another dimension to the space alongside the wooden veneer panel of the bookshelf by the Mihrab.
The overall form of the mosque was inspired by the regional architecture practised in the coastal region that can be observed in typical shelter houses cum primary schools on the west of the mosque. Along with architectural principles, the mosque encompasses the spiritual principle of life in this world as well as eternal life after death with the symphony of the prayer hall inside and the graveyard outside, connecting the soul to divinity.
Architect’s Profile: 3 Points Consultant, an architecture design firm was founded by Architect Tapon Kanti Sarker in March 2012. Architect Tapon graduated from the Bangladesh University of Engineering and Technology (BUET) and is a member of the Institute of Architects Bangladesh (IAB). After graduation, he started his career as an assistant architect at ‘Profile Ltd.’ a renowned firm in Bangladesh. In 2014, he quit his job and started his venture as a practising architect. The firm believes in the main design ideology of “simple planning with greater impact” while practising architecture that respects context, blending regionalism and modernity. Interdisciplinary approach and teamwork between architects and engineers bring out various types of successful projects such as residential, commercial, industrial, religious, urban planning, and interior design. They work in collaboration in the firm to create a better society and healthy environment.
Photography by Maruf Raihan