Sacred Vs. Modern Design A Case from Iraq Open Access Deposited
This project is being built on the site of a thousand-year-old mosque, one of five sacred places in Iraq. People visit the place to pray, not simply because it is an old mosque, but rather because they think that the last descendant of the Prophet Mohammed will eventually be resurrected with Jesus Christ and will pray there. In 2006, an architect was hired to design the building. The premises were: 1) the design should promote the concept of sacredness, 2) this project should show belonging to the society, and 3) it should last for centuries. The results
were controversial, however, by the time it was revealed to the public, the foundations had already been casted, in the hopes that people would eventually accept it. On the contrary, visitors and pilgrims became upset and began to protest the design. The construction process was thus halted in 2008, and we were hired to utilize the same foundations for a new design, one that fitted with the pilgrims' notions of “sacredness”. We began the project by surveying people’s ideas about what mosques on “holy” sites might look like, determining what a “sacred” place meant to them, and why some places are “sacred.” We discovered that most
people think that “sacred” places should seem old. They also singled out some “sacred” examples for us. All these examples have one characteristic: the all hide “a certain kind of mystery”. We studied those examples and then developed our proposal, it was approved in 2011 and will be opened for public in 2018.
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