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Pop-up bamboo mosque by Yasmeen Lari 

Yasmeen Lari creates bamboo pop-up mosques for Islamic Arts Biennale

Pakistani architect Yasmeen Lari has created a trio of dismantlable mosques at the Islamic Arts Biennale in Jeddah, Saudi Arabia, to demonstrate the potential of bamboo.

The mosques were created in response to a challenge from the biennale's artistic director Sumayya Vally to design a reusable mosque that could replace permanent concrete structures at building sites.

Yasmeen Lari creates bamboo "pop-up mosque" for Islamic Arts Biennale
The bamboo mosques form part of the Islamic Arts Biennale

"It was interesting that she had thought about building a pop-up mosque, one that could be dismantled and removed to another site so that there would be no waste as is the case of mosques built at construction sites," Lari told Dezeen.

"Once the crews move on such mosque structures are left to collapse over time since you are not allowed to demolish a mosque once it has been built," she continued. "Dismantling and re-erecting mosque buildings would mean re-use of the structures and also curtail waste and avoid unsightly ruined buildings."

Mosque by Yasmeen Lari
The trio of structures were designed by Yasmeen Lari

Each of the structures consists of a central prayer space surrounded by a colonnade topped with dome-like structures.

Entirely made from bamboo, Lari wanted the structure to offer a more enjoyable place to pray than the usual concrete structures erected on construction sites while avoiding the grand decorative gestures often associated with traditional mosques.

"I believe that the bamboo mosque has the quality of authenticity about it. It has not been adorned by any external embellishments normally added to impress the user," she said.

"The structure remains simple showing every detail – there is nothing hidden," she continued.

"And above all, without mimicking the traditional mosque, the new green architectural vocabulary expresses the spirit of the past."

Pop-up mosque at the Islamic Arts Biennale
The structures were entirely made from bamboo. Photo by Alanood A AlSudairi

Lari was keen to demonstrate the potential of bamboo, which is a type of fast-growing grass that is both renewable and highly durable, as a structural material.

"I hope this structure conveys the future of architecture – an example of what 21st century architecture should be about," said Lari.

"It heralds a departure from the present trend of building high-carbon iconic structures, which in my view show eco bigotry and extensive misuse of the planet's resources, and above all, an uninformed indifference towards future generations."

Recently, Lari designed a cultural centre in Pakistan from bamboo that was built by local people.  According to the architect the 11-metre-high, hanger-like structure is the biggest bamboo building in the country and one of the largest structures made from the material in the world.

In an interview with Dezeen, she explained how a return to using traditional materials could help reduce the huge carbon emissions connected to construction.

Organised by the Diriyah Biennale Foundation, the Islamic Arts Biennale is taking place within a "desert landscape" created by architecture studio OMA. Also at the event, Studio Bound created an installation that aims to communicate the idea that all of Mecca can be considered a mosque.

The photography is courtesy of Islamic Arts Biennale, unless stated.

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.

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