The Vanishing Mosque by RUX Design
for Traffic


The Vanishing Mosque by RUX Design

Manhattan studio RUX Design have won a competition to design a mosque for the UAE with their open-air plaza called The Vanishing Mosque.

The Vanishing Mosque by RUX Design

The design features an ablution pool beneath an open-air, triangular, stepped platform for prayer, surrounded by mixed-use buildings.

The Vanishing Mosque by RUX Design

The colonnade arches and brickwork of the surrounding structures will decrease in size towards the space's apex, deepening the sense of distance looking towards Mecca.

The Vanishing Mosque by RUX Design

Shaded by surrounding buildings and retractable sun-screens, the plaza will be used for prayer five times daily and as an open public space at other times.

The Vanishing Mosque by RUX Design

RUX Design created the proposal for Traffic Design Competition Vol. 2 – Design as Reform, organised by Dubai gallery and studio Traffic, who will commission and build The Vanishing Mosque in the UAE.

The Vanishing Mosque by RUX Design

Here's some more information from RUX Design:



On June 1st, a star-studded jury panel chose The Vanishing Mosque by RUX Design as the winner of the Traffic Design Competition Vol. 2 – Design as Reform, in Dubai. The design was chosen from among ten international finalists (RUX was the only United States finalist) for the "Mosque Through Architecture" category.

"When we started the design process, we were imagining the mosque as a building," says RUX founder and director Russell Greenberg, 29. "By the time we were finished, we had designed an urban plaza, a symbolic and cinematic spatial experience between buildings."

The Vanishing Mosque is a sacred prayer space intricately woven into the fabric of a bustling city. Retail, cultural venues, apartments, hotels, and deep shaded arcades define the edges of its plaza. This plaza space is used exclusively for prayer during Salat, which occurs 5 times over the course of a day. During the rest of the day and evening it is open to the public as a social space for lounging, meeting, and chance interaction.

The Vanishing Mosque by RUX Design

Click above for larger image

"The Vanishing Mosque is meant to be experienced from a human vantage point and at human scale," says Greenberg. "It has no doors or walls. It is open to anyone and everyone at anytime, seamless with the streets and the pulse of daily life. We tried to insert the delicate traditions of islam into the kind of urban space that makes great cities, fosters a sense of shared identity, and helps people fall in love with their communities. What more could we ask from a mosque?"

The formal inspiration for the Vanishing Mosque design came from the need to orient the plaza in the direction of Mecca. The city floor and building facades of the plaza all bend and angle in unison, creating a dramatic forced perspective view "through" the city to Mecca. The construction of this forced perspective appears at all scales of the mosque design. For example, the arches of the colonnades as well as the marble bricks on the building facades get progressively smaller in the direction of Mecca so as to make them appear more distant than they actually are. Retractable shading structures which limit the harsh afternoon sunlight reaching the plaza floor are also designed to reinforce the sense of forced perspective. The angled facades as well as these subtler details all add up to the iconic "A-ha" vanishing point perspective, a transcendental glimpse of infinity.

The Vanishing Mosque by RUX Design

Click above for larger image

Competition judges included Alexander von Vegesack, the director of Vitra Design Museum, Renny Ramakers, the director of the Dutch design collective Droog, Dr. Sami Angawi, the founder and director of the Saudi-based Amar Center for Architectural Heritage, and Rami Farook, the founder of Dubai’s pioneering design gallery and studio Via Traffic ( The Vanishing Mosque design will be commissioned and built in the UAE by Traffic and its affiliates.


RUX is an innovative Manhattan-based design studio that specializes in commercializing creative ideas. Since its inception, the firm has worked on projects ranging from the design of a luxury vending machine called U*tique, which launched at Studio BeautyMix at Fred Segal in Santa Monica, California in April of 2009, to Cameo by RUX, a line of personalized jewelry and limited edition art objects designed from the contours of faces.

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Posted on Monday July 19th 2010 at 1:45 pm by . Copyright policy | Comments policy

  • FN

    Love it, but isn’t it going to be slightly hot up there?

  • kaptain krunch

    agree with FN, a bit hot?

    Absolutely superb though. Hope it lives up to the renders. I love the use of perspective, if it works. Should be called the infinity mosque perhaps?

  • kaptain krunch

    that minaret is pretty interesting. Stairs in a glass box? would be nice to have an expansion on it.

  • bo

    whoa, cool! I just hope it does have railing.

  • bibo architect

    May be it looks nice in renders, but I don’t like for those reasons
    First, it is completely against one of the main principles of mosque design.. Noway the 1st row in the mosque be the shortest row.. it should be the longest row.

    Then, I don’t think the stepping is helping by any means in the functionality of the mosque..

    I believe the design tries to complicate the design of a very easy space, .you just need a space with direction to Ka’aba to have a mosque.

  • nas

    really nice idea, the insertion within the urban fabric is fantastic…
    but doesn’t it(the triangular arrangement) imply a hierarchy towards infinity?

  • band

    this design is interesting in a way that it gives a ‘forced perspective’ amplifying its vanishing point. however, this is not right. the ‘imam’ leads the prayers alone in front, and has to be followed by the largest line possible (saf) behind him, the prerequisites of performing prayers in a jemaah is totally wrong. its not supposed to be triangulated with the smallest ‘saf’ infront, and the largest behind. its supposed to be the other way around. it would be a really nice proposal if its in context with its main function.

    id understand the constraint of the site, and also the needs to face the qiblah, just a thought to share

  • Affendi ‘Stone’ Salleh

    Great concept, but with 1 fundamental flaw: Isn’t praying at 1st ‘saf ‘ behind the imam gain a moslem more ‘divine reward’ as compared to praying at the ‘saf’ furthert from the imam?

    Triangular layout of the prayer space limiting prayers behind the imam.

    Otherwise, cool imagination.

  • Sillybug

    I loved the idea of infinity to Kabe.
    A very good idea gone very wrong. Doesn’t work in so many ways.

  • DXB_Arch

    Nice idea and concept but it totally doesnt work :-/ especially not in this climate not to speak of the flaws in the praying procedures in the islamic religion!

  • I really like this, and would like to experience the building if/when complete!

  • geminorum

    the imam’s place must be lower than the other’s and not over the top. that’s a rule.

  • Josh V

    yes, unfortunately the forced perspective only works when you stand in the one spot where the renderings are located. Stand 1 foot to the left or right and it’s obvious you’re in a triangle. I like the idea and it’s cleanly executed, just won’t work as it is intended.


    nice. and with this project I think it is a revolution.not revolution in faith of islam but in architecture of mosque.
    Islam is a good faith and I think it deserve a nice architecture.

  • nind

    the architect should study a lot about islam .the masjid is totally out of principles.

  • Think about it

    What future does Islam have if it can’t be adapted to unusual spaces and new ideas?

    Nobody will be forced to pray at this mosque; those who do will do so by choice despite (or because of) the violation of certain traditions.

  • Andy

    While I agree that the oversight of some pretty basic volumetric rules regarding mosques seems bad at first (although I know nothing about this, just going off of other comments) – isn’t the fact that it was an UAE-sponsored competition pretty much guarantee that there was someone, somewhere, on the jury who was quite learned on mosque design, and basically disregarded it in the awarding? Maybe it was awarded in spite (or because?) of it’s flipping of traditional spatial rules.

    Regardless, I think there’s some pretty neat spaces and perspectives in this thing.

  • Abdulrahman

    Lovely deign. Absolutely brilliant. Its the first time that I see an inclined Mosque. Its a brilliant solution sens there should be a barrier between the people praying and living creatures in front of them.
    There are some technical issues regarding operation. For one you cant reuse ablution water. So they must integrate some kind of dischargeable running water.

  • zafar

    i recpect all off desginings but islam religion mustn’t be changed and islamic buildings like mosque mustn’t change

    • Eman Farouk

      Well, can you describe to me the perfect shape of a mosque. There are many many typologies of mosque throughout our history that vary from simple courtyard buildings to using a dome to indicate a tomb of somebody to the central dome and four minarets shape which comes from Hagia sophia – the church which later turned into a mosque that served in setting current most famous typology of a mosque.

      The point is we cannot really say there is a definite Islamic mosque building tradition. My critique to this project is obviously the heat of the UAE and the sun. Also, it seems to me this prayer space can be really distracting while trying to focus on the time you dedicate to god while every one is moving around.

  • Amr

    how the people could use it in the summer of UAE , if u don’t know it’s reach a 48 c some times at summer specially after noon and if u know muslim should pray five time every day and one time at the noon ??

  • band

    @Think about it – uve gotta point there, but principals of islam will remain as principals. those are fundamentals. islam doesnt need a future, its a religion, and its a way of life. not even architects / designers should change it. as a designer, one should know the prerequisites and fundamentals before taking it to another level. it definitely is a nice urban space, if it functions as one primarily, but being a place for performing prayers in a ‘jemaah’ as the prime function, it really goes without substance.

  • Janus

    Anybody missing a fence on triangular part ?
    Could anyone imagine a prayer in noon, disoriented by heat and sun, and perhaps slightly pushed down by overheated crowd rushing to shade.
    Maybe a bigger pool would help to ease a fall?

  • hamad

    This does not seem like a mosque to me, but rather a public space to pray. For anyone who has spent time in the Gulf, you see people praying in all sorts of urban conditions (sidewalks, plazas, parks…etc). Calling it a mosque is kind of ignorant on a cultural and typological front, but as a public plaza in which people can pray, it's a nice proposal.

  • Anon

    As a Muslim and architect, im always hoping for more contemporary/western architecture be employed to design Masjids. This is simply beautiful.

  • Abdulrahman

    For those wondering why is it in the open air. There is certain prayers such as Eid prayer and Rain prayer that are done in open air.

  • Seb Miller

    Lovely design, but so impractical I hope it never gets built. The architects have developed a unique scheme, but one that does not satisfy it's core user group. It fails on so many issues, I wonder if they have a basic understanding of the religion……

    – Forcing people to pray twice a day in blistering sun with no shade and overwhelming glare. (This is the UAE with 45 degree C temperatures and high humidity.)

    – Placing the Imam at higher level than the people, which sets the wrong signal symbolically. (The beautty of Islam is that everyone is at the same level….and different to say, Roman Catholism where the clergy are physically (and doctrinely) on a higher level to the lay people).

    – Allowing people to walk / sit / drink on a place where people pray with their heads touching the ground. (Anyone want to put their head to a dirty kerb stone?)

    I'm all for new design approaches to Mosques, but please…. give us something that works!!! This concept needs to be thought out more….

  • OrSchevi

    Something like Louis Khan! But nice project.

  • Zamnah

    The design concept reflects the ignorance of the fundamentals of the liturgical requirements in creating and organizing spaces for a mosque.

    One of the attributes of good architecture is creating comfortable space for people to use. In this case, it reflects the mere insensitivity of the designer to climatic conditions.

    There is a sensible way of incorporating a public space like a plaza and spiritual activities. To a certain extent there should be a designated comfortable area for prayers as the overspill can flow into the public space, i.e. shaded open plaza/garden, especially during major congregations of the year.