Architects: Paolo Portoghesi, Sami Mousawi
The Mosque and Islamic Cultural Center is intended to serve the growing number of Muslims that have moved to Rome. The mosque is the only one in Rome and the complex is considered one of the major monuments built in the city in the past few decades. It has become well known outside Rome and Italy as a result of the considerable coverage it has received in a number of international publications.
The functional requirements for the design of the center included designing a prayer area which would accommodate 2?500 worshippers, and which would be served by ablution areas. In addition, the design was to include a smaller prayer hall which would accommodate 150 worshippers, an educational section containing a library and classrooms, a conference auditorium for 400 people, an exhibition area, and two residential apartments, one for the imam of the mosque and the other for visitors.
In plan, the complex consists of two parts. The first is a rectangular prayer hall measuring about 60 x 40 m with the longer sides facing the qibla (the Southeast). The second part approximates the shape of an “H” and houses the remaining functions of the complex except for the ablution facilities, which are located beneath the prayer hall. A water channel runs along the longitudinal axis of the H-shaped mass and connects two pools, one located in the centre of the mass and another to the Northeast. The longest side of the H-shaped mass, which faces the Northwest, curves away from the complex and toward the city, while the other long side of the H-shaped mass curves toward the prayer hall. The minaret is located southwest of the prayer hall, close to where the H-shaped mass and the prayer hall meet. The prayer hall is raised 8 metres above ground level, with the ablution area occupying part of the volume underneath. The space of the prayer hall contains two symmetrically arranged gallery floors that run perpendicular to the qibla wall. Together, the galleries provide a space for female worshippers about a fourth of the size of the main prayer hall located below them. The prayer hall is articulated by a large central dome with a diameter of over 20 metres. 16 smaller domes surround the large central one. All of the domes are covered with lead and each is articulated with ribs meeting at its apex.
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