Thursday, August 9, 2007

Architecture critic says new mosques are boring

This kind of mosque-lite is a terrible missed opportunity. There's nothing awe-inspiring about a Barratt home, and these are the religious versions. An arabesque and a spot of mosaic work do not a decent building make. Like gable-roofed supermarkets or covered malls with half-timbered facades, the new mosques are eyesores, contributing nothing to the urban fabric. Sophisticated, contemporary, original mosque architecture could do so much to enhance .

The problem in the UK is partly lack of money - there's no central institution like the Vatican bankrolling mosque construction, and a relative shortage of mega-rich Muslims. More important though is a failure of imagination, the result of many community leaders' thoroughly conservative outlook. Changing, letting fresh ideas in, might seem like losing touch with your roots.

Look elsewhere and you'll find the malaise extends from Casablanca to Qatar and Malaysia. The regional template is just reproduced, whether it's Moorish, Ottoman, Gulf or Iranian.