The architectural character of Islamic institutions in the West
Architectural culture of Islamic institutions in the West
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This thesis stems from an awareness, reinforced by personal design experience, of a dilemma which exists about character, in terms of appropriateness of and the representation of Islam, in the Institutions built for Muslim immigrants in the West. While architects building in Islamic nations are fighting their own battles against modernism in architecture in order to maintain continuity within the context of their traditional and contemporary cities, architects building for Muslim communities overseas are searching for appropriate images for their Institutions in cultures which historically have been unaware of the true nature of Islamic civilizations in the world. This study attempts to understand the complexities involved in designing for such building programs, which include mediating between the clients' insistence on the re-creation of the architectural traditions which have been left behind, and the immediate urbanistic, symbolic, social and political forces of the contexts which weave and knit the buildings in their surroundings. Within the limited scope of this endeavor, emphasis is placed on consideration of the architectural character of these religious institutions. However, one cannot completely ignore other aspects of the histories of these buildings, which illustrate the process of their making. These buildings are often loaded with self-conscious and fully acknowledged historical references, taken from the so called generic tradition of 'Islamic Architecture', and are collaged to impress upon the believer or non-believer alike, with recognizable imagery and form, the religious and ideological associations of their functions. However, this method of orchestrating often leaves an unstable territory, within which a critical evaluation of them reveals the inherent contradictions. The theoretical discourse of the thesis will deal with, on one hand, a wide range of general issues, such as the image of Islam in the eyes of the West, the human need for continuity and the use of typology in architecture, and on other hand, the distillation of arguments on specific topics such as the iconography of Islamic architecture and the various interpretations put forward to explain its extensive use of geometry and ornament. The case studies of the Friday Mosques in London and Rome and the Jamatkhanas in London and Burnaby extend and demonstrate the above dialogue with the past and will form the basis of formulation of design principles which might be utilized in future building programs.
Thesis (M.S.)--Massachusetts Institute of Technology, Dept. of Architecture, 1991.Title as it appears in the June 1991 M.I.T. Graduate List: The architectural culture of Islamic institutions in the West.Includes bibliographical references (p. 229-242).
DepartmentMassachusetts Institute of Technology. Dept. of Architecture
Massachusetts Institute of Technology