Sustainability | Environmental

Top 10 Modern Islamic Interior Designs In The World

May 30, 2022 | Hajer Alqarni

Islamic interior design is considered one of the world's most celebrated building design traditions. It can be easily distinguished among all architectural styles, one doesn't need to have extensive experience or knowledge in the field of architecture and interior design to be able to recognize it, since it has its own characteristics such as radiant colors, the use of many geometric shapes, Calligraphy and arabesques. This unique architecture has been popular in the Muslim world since the 6th century.

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The Islamic old interior design buildings are stunning and famous across the world. Some of the most well-known buildings are  Montaza Palace in Egypt, the Great Mosque in Saudi Arabia, Alhambra in Spain, Taj Mahal in India, and Nasir Al-Mulk Mosque in Iran. However, there are many modern interior designs in the Islamic world and in this blog we will mention the top 10 modern Islamic interior designs based on 5 different interior design criteria. Firstly, the balance which means creating harmony in the place by ensuring that the elements are equally distributed. Secondly, the unity which emphasizes a sense of uniformity among the elements used in the design. Thirdly, is the rhythm which means the repetition of elements that helps represent visual interest around the building. Fourthly, the proportion which introduces the idea that the size and dimension of the objects in a room should relate to one another. Fifthly, the details which state that the little things must not be ignored.

  1. King Khalid International Airport Mosque , Saudi Arabia, Riyadh. 1982

The architecture of this Mosque draws inspiration from old Islamic heritage and is also designed to be environmentally friendly and has been rated by the LEED green building rating system. It is designed by the designer Brian Clarke after his studies of Islamic ornament at the Quran schools in Fez. The dome is a diameter of 33 meters and around it are towers that are 40 meters. The mosque has a two-meter-high band of clerestory glass separating the dome from the mosque roof and gives the impression, from outside, that the dome is floating above the roof. Brian designed and oversaw the fabrication of the 2,000 square metres of stained glass for the mosque including the Koranic library, the office, the skylights and the windows. This mosque consisted of hundreds of stained glass windows, at that time the project was considered to be the largest and most technically advanced stained glass project of the modern period.  The dome is about 33 metres in diameter and internally clad in polished brass, above the main space of the mosque. The floor-to-ceiling ground-level windows transilluminate cool light into the mosque’s interior, and the use of the gold finish casts a warm reflected light out into the plaza around the mosque. The Islamic ornament is another feature for this mosque design. The corner windows throughout the mosque, in blue and green and have central panels of carved, translucent  onyx, a technique and aesthetic solution that had never been used before.

Image courtesy of Flickr

Image courtesy of Flickr

  1. The museum of Islamic art, Qatar, Doha. 2008

The museum's interior design is influenced by ancient Islamic architecture yet has a uniquely modern design. It is the first museum to feature over 14 centuries of Islamic art in the Arab world. Designed by the architect I.M. Pei who traveled throughout the Muslim world on a six-month quest to learn about Muslim architecture and history to draw inspiration for his design. The Museum consists of a main building with an education wing connected by a large central courtyard. The main building consists of 5 storeys, with a high domed atrium. According to I.M. Pei, the light fountain in the 9th century Ibn Tulun Mosque of Cairo was the inspiration for this museum design. Many elements found in Ibn Tulun Mosque are represented in the building as an abstract form that reflects the postmodern architecture historical design which synchronizes the modernity and the historical Islamic architectural identity. The interior main part of the atrium has a curved double staircase, above it floats an ornate circular metal chandelier echoing the form of the staircase. The interior of the building is also decorated with several Islamic arts such as geometric patterns, calligraphic texts, and arabesques.The five-storey that tall a 45-metre window on the north side gives spectacular panoramic views across the bay and play a significant role in the design of this museum which make it unique, whether in the morning or evening.

Image courtesy of Myhoidays

Image courtesy of Flicker

  1. The Hassan II Mosque, Morocco, Casablanca. 1993

The building blends Islamic and Moroccan architecture elements, while featuring an urban design. The mosque was designed by the architect Michel Pinseau, who had lived in Morocco. The exterior surfaces of the mosque display titanium, bronze, and granite finishes and it is ornamented with pale blue marble. The whole mosque structures are made of reinforced cement concrete and all the decorations reflected the traditional Moroccan design. The prayer hall is characterized by its removable roof, which can open in only a few minutes, and that illuminates the hall with daytime sunlight, and allows worshippers to pray under the stars on clear nights. The roof is covered with 300,000 tiles made especially of cast aluminum and is adorned with 14 domes, and 50 Murano glass chandeliers. As for the central hall which consists of a succession of numerous domes from which glass chandeliers, imported from Murano, are hung. On either side of the hall, there are mezzanine floors with carved dark brown wood furnishings, which are reserved for women. This building is unique for its doors which are electrically operated and the panels are built with multicolored arches, engraved with ornamented floral designs which make it appear like a geometrical framework when viewed from the outside. The gates are adorned with marble bars which have faux voussoirs. Carved or painted marble or shaped wood are used for this mosque design, which highlight Islamic art tradition.

Image courtesy of Reddit

Image courtesy of Memphis Tours

  1. Sultan Qaboos Grand, Oman, Muscat. 2001

The main feature of the interior design of this mosque is the prayer carpet which is mixed between the classical Persian Tabriz, Kashan and Isfahan design traditions that is why it used 28 colors in varying shades, most of these colors obtained from traditional vegetable dyes. It is considered the second largest single-piece carpet in the world.

The chandelier above the praying hall is about 14 metres tall that makes it perfectly works since the mosque is 90 metres high. It weighs 8.5 tons, includes 600,000 crystals, 1,122 halogen bulbs complete with a dimming system. It was made by the Italian company Faustig. It's also considered the second world's largest chandelier. There are thirty-four smaller chandeliers of the same design that are used in other parts of the building. This mosque is decorated with handcrafted inscriptions and colorful mosaic patterns which represents a one-of-a-kind piece of interior art. The mosque’s top walls and the internal courtyard is a bar inscribed with verses from the Quran in Thuluth script, with Islamic geometric shapes filling the corridor archways.

Image courtesy of Manonthelam

Image courtesy of Atlas Obscura

5- Central Mosque of Pristina Competition Entry, Pristina, Kosovo. 2013

The mosque was designed by Taller 301 and the company Land+Civilization Compositions. The main idea behind designing the Central Mosque of Pristina is to re-interpret the elements that constitute the Mosque, however, without pushing the limits of the established traditional principles of Islamic Architecture. The designers refer to the question of catching ‘the soul of the time’ in a predetermined typology: Firstly the mosque itself as the center of a ‘modern’ community. Secondly the design reflects tranquility, Continuity and Unity. Thirdly, circles and lights are the integrative elements of the interior design as well as the exterior design. The Islamic tradition forms like dome and courtyard, which are very important elements in Mosque architecture, are kept, but modified to adapt the site, and given a more contemporary formal quality.

Image courtesy of Taller 301 and L+CC

Image courtesy of Taller 301 and L+CC

6- Sheikh Zayed Grand Mosque, Abu Dhabi, UAE. 2007

The mosque’s design of the Sheikh Zayed Grand Mosque can be defined as a fusion of Moorish and Mughal architecture. The Mosque has about 80 domes inspired by old Moroccan design and it is all decorated with white marble. It has around 1,000 columns in its outer areas and clad with more than 20,000 marble panels inlaid with semi-precious stones. What makes this mosque unique is the chandeliers that are designed to look like an upturned palm tree, which is a key symbol of sustenance and prosperity in the Emirates. It is made of stainless steel, covered with 24-carat gold plates and adorned with Swarovski crystals. The beauty of the chandeliers blends with the hand-knotted carpet made in Iran, and it is considered the world’s largest chandelier and the world’s largest hand-knotted carpet. The light sources were integrated into ledges, niches and behind the carved wooden latticework known as Mashrabiya, which is a traditional Islamic window design. The aim behind that was to achieve the appearance of lightness and the necessary levels of indirect light, and that makes the building seem to glow with a natural luminosity, despite the huge number of artificial light sources. This Mosque is distinguished for using natural materials for much of its design and construction due to their long-lasting qualities, including marble stone, gold, semi-precious stones, crystals and ceramics. The qibla well, which is the pray direction or the direction of the Great mosque of Mecca, has the 99 names of Allah with backlit marble inlays through a fiber optic system

Image courtesy of Esquire Middle East

Image courtesy of  ephotozine

7- The Faisal Mosque, Pakistan, Islamabade. 1986

The mosque was designed by Vedat Dalokay who didn’t use the traditional Islamic domes; instead he designed an eight-sided main hall that looked like an Arab's tent. He mentioned that he tried to capture the proportion, and geometry of Kaaba in a purely abstract manner. The interior of the main hall is covered in white marble and decorated with mosaics and calligraphy by the artist Sadequain. The mosque also has a spectacular, huge chandelier made of gold plated aluminium tubes weighing 7.5 tons which uses 1000 electric bulbs, designed in a Turkish style. The qibla Wall is covered with blue and white tiles, and the interior of the mosque uses decoration inspired by Turkish and Pakistani style. This mosque represented an unusual design by combining contemporary and classic Islamic architecture.

Image courtesy of Zameen

Image courtesy of Al Fozan

8- Great Mosque of Central Java, Indonesian. 2006

The design of the Great Mosque of Central is a mix of the Southeast Asian style, the Arabian-Middle East style as well as the modern Islamic design. The building has three central buildings arranged in the shape of a U, with the domed mosque at the centre, which  has four minarets. In front of the mosque three is a series of Arabic-style arches, with Arabic calligraphs of 99 of Allah attributes, with also a 25 pillars, each representing one of the named prophets in Islam. The courtyard is used as an overspill area for praying and is uniquely equipped with retractable umbrella structures which is inspired by the umbrellas of AI-Nabawi mosque in Madinah. The roof tier is designed with windows that illuminate the interior space with natural light and that make it a supplement to the light cast by the grand, circular chandelier. The hall of the mosque is painted in green and the niche and platform were formed by a built-in portal at the centre of the wall. The entablature of the portal is decorated with a band of calligraphic Quranic inscriptions.

Image courtesy of aroengbinang

Image courtesy of Dreams Time

9- KAPSARC Mosque, Saudi Arabia, Riyadh. 2014

The mosque of the King Abdullah Petroleum Studies and Research Center (KAPSARC) designed by HOK Architects. It is important to mention that all buildings of the KAPSARC are designed to be sustainable, including the mosque. The mosque is raised three feet above the adjacent outdoor spaces and surrounded by a remarkable and reflective pool that glows at night. The worshipers go to the mosque by climbing floating stone steps and traversing a glass bridge. The exterior design is inspired by traditional mashrabiya screens, the masjid’s monolithic core is perforated with a pattern of glowing windows and complex mullion patterns and surrounded by glass. Because of this the building’s appearance changes from day to night and season to season. The interior is an interplay of shade and shadows viewed through the lens of the mashrabiya screen wall, which allow the natural light from windows and skylights to brighten the whole space, so the design creates a serene worship space.

Image courtesy of AECCafe

Image courtesy of HOK Architects

10- Şakirin Mosque, Turkey, Istanbul. 2009

This mosque designed by the architect Hüsrev Tayla, and the interior designed by Zeynep Fadıllıoğlu. From the outside the building design is sleek, metallic, and dyed in grey, which gives of a modern effect of contemporary architecture. The dome is covered in fish-scale aluminum panels and facades are finished in stone and aluminum mesh. The prayer niche is what distinguished this mosque and it is a turquoise arch, which made a sculptural work of art that immediately draws the eye. Under the dome there is a chandelier decorated with light-emitting diodes and water drop-shaped glass globes made by Nahide Büyükkaymakçı, who mentioned that "the design reflects a prayer that Allah's light should fall on worshipers like rain,". The designers introduced new ideas rather than the traditions of Ottoman architecture, however, Islamic traditional design were also followed, for instance the three low-hanging chandeliers are engraved with the 99 names of Allah as well as the sura “Nur” from the Quran.

Image courtesy of Saudi Gazette

Image courtesy of Al Fozan

In conclusion, we can say that the chandeliers, mihrabs, Quran inscriptions, decorated roofs and creative window designs are integral parts of Islamic modern design. This blog mentioned 10 buildings with remarkable interior design and architecture that represent the Islamic design in modern ways. However, there are more and more amazing mosques, museums and other buildings in Islamic world. I hope you enjoy reading this blog and learning some new information about Islamic interior designs.

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