Luca Poian Forms designs a new Mosque that envisions an architectural language that is timeless in its materiality. Conceived as an elliptical extrusion at the south-western end of Preston, the design features an abstract and legible massing that is not only iconic and memorable, but also highly kinetic.
Conceived as an architectural hybrid, the design unshackles the mosque from traditional architectural typologies, instead proposing a structure that is at once monolithic and ethereal in appearance. Its most notable feature is its highly refined and articulated brick facade, which is conceived as an urban-scale curtain that gently pleats away to frame the main entrance of the building.
The materiality and careful treatment of the mosque’s exterior not only harmonises the relationship between the new and the existing, but in fact further enhances the building’s cultural identity by harkening back to the textile manufacturing industry that has characterised the region throughout history. Located at the south-western end of the site, the minaret tower makes reference to Lancashire’s well recognised round-section cotton mill chimneys - celebrating the local history whilst announcing the mosque’s presence within the skyline of Preston.
A sinuous ramp provides a point of access for pedestrians into the site, navigating the topography of the hill and producing a slow transition from city to mosque - from urban to sacred. Upon entering, the building unravels as a series of carefully articulated layers in plan, inviting male visitors into a grand lobby at ground level and leading female visitors to their own dedicated prayer facilities on level one. Flanking the main foyer, two dedicated stairs create separate routes for male and female visitors, inviting them to their respective ablution and prayer areas.
A large skylight will drench both spaces in natural daylight, creating an experience that will stand in contrast to the quiet and reverential nature of the prayer hall below. The result is a rich and diverse architectural experience that not only pays homage to Preston’s diverse Muslim communities, but also proposes a new paradigm for the design of sacred Islamic architecture across the UK.