Published on: August 11, 2009
We are publishing another striking project from Speirs and Major Associates. The lighting design for Sheikh Zayed Bin Sultan Al Nahyan Mosque in Abu Dhabi was recognized with the Award of Merit by IALD.
More detailed description of the project by Speirs and Major Associates follows:
Client: Department of Municipalities and Agriculture, Abu Dhabi
Executive Architect: Halcrow Group
Interior Architect: Spatium Architects
Lighting Design Team: Jonathan Speirs, Keith Bradshaw, Carrie Donahue Bremner, Philip Rose, Francis Milloy, Iain Ruxton
One of the largest mosques in the world, this vast and intricately wrought edifice is designed to house more than 40,000 worshipers. Also known as the Grand Mosque, the building is an icon in Abu Dhabi and presented a series of creative and practical challenges.
The lighting scheme needed to provide coherence to the complex architecture and interior design, while being sensitive to the individual materials used. Spaces needed to be well lit for functional reasons (including a strong lit image for normal, civic and TV events) while highlighting architectural features. The luminaires themselves, however, were to be as discreet as possible.
Light sources were integrated into coves, niches, ledges and behind musharabia (carved wood latticework) details. The aim was to achieve as much of the light appearance and requisite levels using indirect wallwashing. Blue was considered a sufficiently spiritual colour and was used in combination with white in the domed areas. The use of white or blue was linked to the appearance of the exterior lighting of the mosque which changes daily during the lunar month.
Inside, lighting accentuates marble panels, glass mosaic, carved gypsum and calligraphy. Each material has an appropriate lighting technique to best reveal its texture and natural veining. Each of the 34 constantly lit domes within the arcade has separate calligraphy inscriptions from the Koran, illuminated with a halo effect around the curved surface.
The qibla wall, towards which worshipers face, is a unique art piece brought to life with fibre optic lighting. Fibre channels illuminate a gold curtain behind the 99 names of Allah, while side-emitting fibre optics reveal the organic forms of vine leaves and fronds. The effect is to apparently dissolve the material into a symbolic luminous panel.
Essential to the success of the scheme was constant testing and trialling. In addition to concept design and workshops, mock-ups were required to check the scale of the effect in such vast spaces and to ensure that the layered lighting effects (governed by a complex control system) created a single lit composition. The result is that this magnificent building appears to glow with a natural luminance, an intrinsic part of both its aesthetic and spiritual identity.
Note of the editor:
Please note the copyright of these images is retained by Speirs And Major Associates and the photographers.Â Use of those images is subject to them being used for this article only. Publication of any image in any form or fashion must include a credit for both Speirs And Major Associates and the photographers.
Posted by: LuÄŤka Slatner