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City as a Mosque installation at Islamic Arts Biennale

Studio Bound envisions City as a Mosque for Islamic Arts Biennale

Design practice Studio Bound has created an installation at the Islamic Arts Biennale in Jeddah, Saudi Arabia, that aims to communicate the idea that all of Mecca can be considered a mosque.

Named City as a Mosque, the installation aims to build understanding about the formal and informal places of worship in the city of Makkah – also known as Mecca.

City as a Mosque installation at the Islamic Arts Biennale
Studio Bound designed the City as a Mosque installation at the Islamic Arts Biennale

"City as a Mosque is an ode to the sacred spaces of Makkah," Studio Bound told Dezeen.

"The work is a culmination of eight years of ongoing research into Makkah, in a quest to better understand its urban physiognomy and social makeup."

Mosque carpet made from sandstone
The installation contains 14 representations of mosques

"The work celebrates the formal and informal spaces of worship within the city: past, present and future, underpinned by the very belief that all Makkah's ground is sacred," it continued.

"The city in all its essence is a sacred space for prayer, worship and is a mosque."

Viewing platform within Jeddah airport
It is surrounded by a circular viewing platform

The installation consists of 14 sandstone slabs that each represent a mosque in Makkah.

Each of the slabs was milled with a 1:1 scale pattern of a prayer carpet from the mosque, along with an outline of the building.

They were arranged within a sand-covered, concave platform surrounded by a circular ramp that acts as a viewpoint.

"A procession around the tiles via an ascending ramp plays tribute to the ceremonial and ritualistic action of circumambulation, offering aerial vantage points and avenues for reflection," said the studio.

Mosque installation at Islamic Arts Biennale
Each mosque is illuminated by a vertical light

Alongside each of the stone carpets, a vertical neon light illuminates the tiles with a green hue at night and evokes the mosques' minarets.

Studio Bound hopes that the installation will highlight both the prayer spaces within the city and the people that use them.

"The piece is meant to assert that all spaces within Makkah are sacred, whether large or small," it said. "The sanctity of its sacred landscape is attributed to its essence beyond any built prescription, whether past, present or future."

"The prayer spaces of the city are a mere imprint of time, whose ephemeral presence and collective presentation speaks to a spiritual connectedness that transcends the physical," Studio Bound continued.

"The prayer spaces speak to the communities of Makkah, its people who through time have celebrated the city and contributed to its identity."

Studio Bound's installation is located within a "desert landscape" created as the backdrop for the biennale by architecture studio OMA within the SOM-designed Western Hajj Terminal at King Abdulaziz International Airport in Jeddah. Organised by the Diriyah Biennale Foundation the event is being curated by South African architect Sumayya Vally.

The photography is by Ali Karimi.

The Islamic Arts Biennale takes place in Jeddah from 23 January until 23 April 2023. See Dezeen Events Guide for an up-to-date list of architecture and design events taking place around the world.

More images

City as a Mosque installation at Islamic Arts Biennale by Studio Bound
City as a Mosque installation at Islamic Arts Biennale by Studio Bound
City as a Mosque installation at Islamic Arts Biennale by Studio Bound