A mosque is not just a sacred place of worship for Muslims, it also serves as community center and school. It has a wide range of architectural styles, all of them have specific requirements.
Therefore every component of interior and exterior has a profound meaning that mosque design requires understanding of them;
Types of mosque architecture
Since 7th century mosques have been built all over the world and it can be defined with three basic types;
House of the Prophet Mohammad, was inspired the earliest type of mosques.
Common hypostyle plan’s characteristic is colonnade hall where columns can be reproduced along a orthogonal grid and has an adjacent courtyard surrounded by a single column.
This type was used in different mosques to bring great effect to the interior and The Great Mosque of Kairouan is a prototype of the hypostyle mosque.
Iwan is an area that opens onto the courtyard.
However, in the four iwan mosques, each wall of the courtyard ends with a monumental hall.
In four-iwan mosque architecture, the qibla iwan aligning the Mecca is usually decorated in the largest and most ornate way, as in the Great Mosque of Isfahan.
Most common usage place, Ottoman Empire and Ottoman architects were strongly influenced by Hagia Sophia’s centrally-planned dome.
The inner octagonal area is widened with 8 large piers pushed back into the walls, and a rhythmic harmony is created, filling the wide area with light and color through the diaphragms of the small and large arches framed.(see more on Mosque Design)
Let’s review one of the most important urban mosques and beautiful buildings in the Islamic World;
Dome of Rock and Its Characteristic Features
The Dome of the Rock is also known Qubbatus Saqqara, built by Caliph Abd al-Malik from 685 to 692 CE and a place of sacred rock where Prophet Mohammed ascended to Mi’raj.
The octagonal building was the most advanced of the design at the time, the rest was built on a marble base made of wood.
There are doors four of the eight sides, and includes seven windows. The dome is 25 meters and covered with gold platted sheets. The interior is decorated with mosaic, marble and Quranic verses.
Its architecture is considered a masterpiece because of the mathematical rhythm of each of its outer walls, 67 feet long, the diameter of the dome and the height from the floor to the drum.
When the Dome of Rock was built, the exterior was covered with mosaics. The beautiful exterior tile work was made by Suleyman the Magnificent.
With the unique skills of Persian master ceramists, 40,000 tiles were put into place. The inscription surrounding the hill is the Surah Yasin, which is considered the heart of the Quran. It was added by Sultan Abdulhamid II.
If you can look through it, the dome is topped with a full moon decoration that aligns directly to Mecca.
Spatial components of a Mosque
Spatial components of a mosque planning can be divided into three parts;
Fixed-feature components of a mosque interior cannot be changed. They include the scale, size, and depth of a space and are usually applied to the prayer hall.
Placement of the zones
The placement can be implemented in three zones:
a. Inner zone: The areas included mihrab, the main prayer hall, and the ablution area.
b. Transition zone: Consists of the occasional arcades, the patio, and the courtyard.
c. Outer zone: There is the mosque periphery that includes the yard and the path.
d. Wet areas: Ablution areas and bathrooms are located away from the main prayer hall and in a separate part of the building.
2- Semi-fixed components
Consist of atmosphere, ambiance and the interpretation of architectural elements. These are stable, but can be easily changed.
3- Non fixed-feature
It is included outer zone and must be delivered unforgettable journey for newcomers with its design.