Dezeen Magazine

The mosque has a cascading design

Aidia Studio designs mosque in Preston with cascading arched volumes

London and Mexico city-based Aidia Studio has proposed a mosque for Preston, England, that is designed to be a "quintessential archetype of Islamic Architecture".

If built the New Preston Mosque would be located on the northern outskirts of Preston at the top of a small hill.

The New Preston Mosque was surrounded by a landscaped car park
The mosque is located at the northern edge of the city of Preston

Its elevated position aims to create a symbolic journey of ascension to the religious building from the surrounding area.

"Our approach places the mosque at the highest point on the site, in doing so, apart from cultivating the symbolic gesture of the ascendance, we are able to define a journey which starts in the landscape," Aidia Studio co-founder Rolando Rodriguez-Leal told Dezeen.

The New Preston Mosque has a cascading form
Aidia Studio designed the mosque within three cascading rows of lancet arches

The studio designed the mosque and its surrounding site on a grid that aligns the structure and its internal architectural elements with landscaped areas and a car park.

It was designed around a repeated block system that used a collection of cascading lancet arches – an arch with a pointed tip, used across Islamic architecture – to create its form.

A rear row of 4.7-metre-wide arches stretches across the rear of the building while shorter, half-width arches are positioned at the front of the building.

If built, the New Preston Mosque's arches would be constructed using reinforced ground natural stone or cast in glass fibre reinforced concrete.

Detail render of the arches at New Preston Mosque and the bronze casted screens
Bronze casted mashrabiya screens would stretch across the faces of the arches

Cast bronze mashrabiya screens – a decorative screen typically found in Islamic buildings – will be fitted between the arches to allow natural light into the interior of the mosque.

"Perhaps the most poetic of all Islamic architectural archetypes, the mashrabiya filters the light and sets the stage for a dimmed ceremonial atmosphere," said Rodriguez-Leal.

"We have designed a pattern that reinforces the fractal linearity of the overall scheme. The mashrabiya cassettes, intended to be cast bronze, close the vaults along the north west-south east axis creating a kinetic play of lights and shadows across all three levels of the mosque."

A 32-metre tall minaret tower will be situated beside the mosque and will serve as a landmark for Preston.

Visitors will be able to enter the mosque at the front of the structure between a collection of small arches.

Interior render of the prayer room at New Preston Mosque
Light will filter through the bronze cast screens and create playful shadows across the interior

A lobby at the front of the building will serve as a transitional space providing access to a library, a large prayer room, plazas and offices.

Separate entrances for men and women will be placed at either end of the building and lead to dedicated men's and women's only prayer rooms. The main prayer hall, located on the ground floor, occupies the rear of the building.

Interior render of a space at the New Preston Mosque
There will be additional prayer rooms and libraries located on the upper levels of the mosque

The landscaped car park has a stepped, cascading look that was designed to not resemble its function. It will use strips of slate and stone that intertwine to create a panelled design between grassy areas.

"Possibly one of the biggest challenges we faced was to design a car park which doesn't resemble one," said Rodriguez-Leal.

"Our approach aims to blur the boundary between parking and landscaping, and we do so by establishing a playful array of shifting slates, plates, and benches."

Interior render of the library at New Preston Mosque
The mosque would be oriented toward Mecca

The design for the New Preston Mosque was part of an international competition held by the Royal Royal Institute of British Architects.

Luca Poian Forms' design titled Brick Veil Mosque which has a large elliptical form was selected as the competition's winning proposal.

Earlier in 2021, Marks Barfield Architects designed a sustainable mosque in Cambridge that looks to local architecture and incorporates traditional Islamic design elements.

More images and plans

Ground floor plan of New Preston Mosque
First floor plan of New Preston Mosque
Second floor plan of New Preston Mosque