Cambridge Eco-Mosque Gets The Green Light
A model of the planned new eco-mosque in Mill Road, Cambridge. The Mill Road area of Cambridge has no landmarks or attractions and does not...
The Mill Road area of Cambridge has no landmarks or attractions and does not feature heavily on tourist guides to the city. But that could change if ambitious proposals for a £13m mosque get the green light. - GuardianA Quintessentially English Mosque
The mosque, which is designed by the London Eye architects, Marks Barfield, will not have minarets or any external markings that scream 'masjid'. Aside from a gold dome (well, you gotta have a dome), there is a cafe and a women-only massage therapy room.
Fortunately, the mosque design and location is enjoying great support from non-Muslims living and working in Mill Road.
Anne Prince, from the East Mill Road Action Group, had nothing but praise for the mosque project team. She said,
"The Muslim Academic Trust has been fantastic at engaging with the local community, and not in a tokenistic way. It chose to be very open about its plans. The mosque will be the most contemporary building in this area. It will be so outstanding, a destination, that people will want to come and see it."A crucial ingredient to success is the good behaviour of the people behind the mosque who "have won people over". The teaching area at Cambridge mosque, the public garden and cafe will be among the spaces open to non-Muslims.
The appointed architects are behind one of the most popular visitor attractions in Britain, and the "face" of the project is Timothy Winter - Shaykh Abdal Hakim Murad, a Cambridge academic and Muslim convert who sometimes lends his voice to another institution, BBC Radio 4's Thought for the Day.
Sarah Elgazzar, a project team member, said: "There are lots of misconceptions about Islam and Muslims.
"A lot of people who have those negative feelings have never interacted with Muslims. Reaching out in this way is a great opportunity for Muslims to give something back to Cambridge. I expected a little bit of negative feedback. I didn't see it but I was waiting for it."
Is A Mosque A Mosque Without A Dome?
Elgazzar said there have been environmental changes to improve the mosque site (yay!).
There will be an underground car park to allay concerns about traffic and the mosque was moved from the street to make way for a garden so that, according to Prince, one would get "some sense of green space at the front".
The design, says the architect David Marks, is a departure from the "preponderance of Ottoman mosques" in the UK.
"We didn't want to create a replica or pastiche of something that existed elsewhere. The opportunity to do something English, British, excited us. You don't need to have a minaret to be a mosque. Can a mosque be a mosque without a dome? Yes. Now that there is a significant Muslim community it's got time to work out what it means to have an English mosque."
The main mosque in Cambridge is in good condition but squeezes in its 700 people for Friday prayers, who spill out to pray on the streets. The prospect of a new, environmentally friendlier mosque, then, is an exciting one for congregants.
Aminul Islam, a business owner from Cambridge, has raised £250,000 in two years for the new building who says, "This is the 21st century. You have to make it attractive to our non-Muslim brothers and sisters. We have to leave this mosque to the next generation."
Plans for the new mosque will be formally submitted this year. Insha'Allah, God willing!
Image + GuardianMore eco-mosques:
Eco-Mosque In Germany Gets Wind Powered Minarets
Green Ramadan: How To Form A Green Mosque Committee
Eco-mosques and greener domes
Implementing Energy Savers At Huddersfield's Only Eco-Mosque