A group of students with headphones is sitting in a class room, some of them looking up distractedly through the huge glass window to the corridor as we pass. We are wandering about the convoluted building of the Qatar Faculty of Islamic Studies trying to locate the mosque. The floor plan showing emergency exits only makes us more confused. And the building – although already in use – still being only partly finished does not make it any easier.
The FIS Mosque is the second building we visit in Education City – a nearly 15 km2 large quarter in the west of Doha, destined to become a hotspot of international universities, research institutes, convention centres and museums.
Although some of the universities – most of them offshoot campuses of major US universities –have been there longer, the development started in earnest with the master plan by Japanese architect Isozaki Arata, who also built the Doha National Convention Centre overlooking the main boulevard.
With several major building sites and a clogged multi-lane radial road to cross from the Convention Centre to our next goal, we are rather relieved to arrive at the huge asymmetrical shape that we recognise as the University Mosque.
Towards the East of the other universities and closest to the city, the Qatar Faculty of Islamic Studies, part of Hamad Bin Khalifa University, basically consists of several huge white blobs with two tilted spikes, the minarets of the stunning University Mosque. It is not only the most daring and unconventionally built mosque we have ever seen, but one of the most impressive examples of contemporary religious architecture in general that we have visited.
Built by the architectural team of Mangera Yvars, the mosque has all the typical features – minarets and a prayer room with a mihrab (prayer niche) and minbar (elevated preacher's seat), a second floor women's balustrade shaded from view, tables and bookshelves for studying the Quran,
shelves for the shoes outside the prayer room … but the size and form of all these elements are daring and unusual, with calligraphy and stars seemingly floating over the ceiling.
You even get electronic counters instead of rosary beads for use inside the mosque.
Maybe because of the ongoing construction work and the general emptiness of the building we were able to stroll on our own through the building and take a lot of pictures! Isn't it fabulous?
See also our related post: Stunning contemporary architecture in Doha