Studio Ö Architects win first prize in open architecture competition hosted by Arcbazar
Studio Ö have designed an extension for the Islamic Center of New England. The new serene prayer space is raised above the ground by round, slender pillars The pillars lift the building from the ground suspends the it in mid-air, creating the illusion of a floating solid. The volume is connected to the existing building by a passage, allowing the new building to communicate with the existing one. The volume is closed to the outside and opens up on the inside. The concrete facade has an intricate pattern, working with shifting planes and shadows to create an elegant and playful expression.
Males and females have their own floors accessible from the existing building. The men enter from the first floor while the women continue to the second floor. Once you enter the new building you enter a light and airy space. Light enters the inward facing building in interesting ways making it a unique and poetic space. The exterior doesn't reveal the space that opens up inside. The new building is facing Qibla internally, while its shell adapts to the existing building and its surroundings. This can symbolise the way you turn inside when you pray, leaving the outside world for a moment.
The ablution areas connect to an inner, spiritual garden with lush vegetation, lending it light and a sense of freedom. Water flows continuously in narrow streams giving you the sensation of washing yourself in nature. The prayer room, which is one room or space with a mezzanine for the woman, is flooded by light trough a magnificent ceiling with arched lanterns that distribute the light evenly. The wall facing Qibla houses the mihrab and on the right hand side the minbar is carved out of the wall. Both these walls are sparse but elegantly decorated with a relief of a traditional Islamic pattern.
The concrete facades have a chiseled surface. The interior surfaces are much smoother and at times even polished, to reflect the light coming in from the lanterns in the roof and the windows facing the spiritual garden. On other parts it is treated with a relief surface to reflect a pattern. Different pigmentations are used to brighten the interior and make use of the light. The rough exterior is contrasted by the softer and more processed interior.