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Shah Faisal Moque Islamabad

Doxiadis' rigid grid-iron plan for Islamabad was considered to be in accordance with Islam because it was "based on pure geometry", but a grand national mosque had not been included  amongst the buildings. Eventually a site was earmarked at the foot of the Maragalla Hills, beyond the northern periphery of  the city. The design of the building was chosen through an international competition in 1970. The secular considerations
which seem to have dominated the deliberations of the architect-dominated international jury for the grand national
mosque stand in sharp contrast to the religious Islamic nationalistic sentiments of the bureaucrats in their selection of the
designs for the secular buildings of national importance.

The jury rejected designs that "could not carry the basic design  ideas to their local structural and architectural conclusions", or "did not fit the contemporary planning and design ideals of  the modern city of Islamabad". The criteria it adopted were:

site development and landscaping; plan organization and circulation; structures; and design elements.

The winning design by Vedat Dalokay, a Turkish architect, with its "simple straightforward covering of a large space by
four double diagonal supports counter-balanced by the four minarets was appreciated as a satisfactory solution." According to the jury report "the classical approach of formal mosque  architecture was blended in this project with modern form and technology. The simplicity of the general layout and interior space was appreciated".

The jury made some suggestions to complete its conformity to the international style by eliminating even the few token references to traditional design. These suggestions included the elimination of the entry gate, redesign of the entrance canopy to conform with the modern lines of the main structure, the reduction of materials down to the fewest possible and expressing the structure internally as well as externally. Construction began in 1976 and was completed in 1984.

The project is designed to accommodate 100,000 persons in the courtyard and 20,000 in the prayer hall and verandah. As it is built, the main mosque level is raised on a two-storeyed podium

which houses, among other functions, an entire university. Both the Faisal Mosque and the Presidency complex were conceived in the 1960's and 1970's, when the Modern Movement  and the International Style ruled the international fraternity of architects. Today, the supremacy of the Modern Movement has been challenged by both Western and Pakistani architects.

Meanwhile, other events, such as an influx of Western architects working in the oil-rich countries of the Middle East,  have led to a revival of interest in Islam and Islamic architecture in the West. By the beginning of the 1980's Islamic Architecture had become a subject for discussion in architectural circles all round the world.


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