Re-Defining Places of Worship

Updated: Jan 18

Basuna Mosque by DAR Arafa Architecture:

The Basuna Mosque is located in the hot & arid village of Basuna, Sohag, Egypt, over a site amidst a noisy, dusty and densely constructed area with encroaching residential buildings, a cemetery, cattle frequently moving back and forth on the road and a weekly makeshift small market right outside the main entrance of this place of worship posed a major challenge. The new building must offer peace and tranquility for its users and so a few requirements had to be met.

Picture courtesy: Dar Arafa Arhitecture

The solution depends on a cavity-wall with only one window, overlooking the calm cemetery, covered with a hybrid roof system; consisting of a concrete beam gridiron, cast in situ, forming a central square (6.0x6.0m) covered with a main dome, and 108 smaller square openings (0.82 x 0.82m) partially covered using pendent-domes, complemented with fixed horizontal and operable vertical glass panels allowing fresh high-altitude northern breeze to filter into the mosque, indirect glare-less sunlight to naturally illuminate the interior, and rain-water to be collected and

used for cleaning and watering plants.

Picture courtesy: Dar Arafa Arhitecture

The main dome was constructed using an Egyptian-made light block made of sand, lime and air, with a density of 0.5 ton/m3, thermal conductivity 0.136-0.132 W/m2.°K, fire rating (relative to thickness) 4-7 hours, sound insulation (dB) 37-48. The remarkable lightness of the block decreased the building’s own-weight, in turn decreasing the required dimensions of all reinforced concrete elements. Its dimensions (100x200x600 mm) were perfect for introducing an original aesthetic, serving the conceptual scheme of the mosque, through employing a special cutting list and a

simple staggered tessellation. I had to devise a special steel compass to guarantee the meticulous spatial positioning of every single block regardless of a mason’s skills and accuracy.

Picture courtesy: Dar Arafa Arhitecture

Pendent-domes are a known structural element, traditionally used to facilitate the transition from square to octagonal plans to finally receive the circular plan of a dome.

In the Basuna Mosque, this element was re-imagined as an independent unit, with innovated functions; structurally as a roof system, environmentally as a wind-catcher and skylight, and aesthetically as an independent geometrical object, appreciated both from the interior and the exterior.

The entrance dome references the historical dome of the Cordoba Grand Mosque. It serves as a reminder of the rich potential of historical architecture in both the architectural discourse and construction innovations.
Picture courtesy: Dar Arafa Arhitecture

There are 4 entrances to the building, two of which could be made accessible for worshippers with special needs, once the roads and infra-structure of the village allows for free and independent movement of people with special needs.

Picture courtesy: Dar Arafa Arhitecture

The multi-use hall is designed to accommodate seasonal increases in the numbers of worshipers, of both genders, during Fridays and the Holy month of Ramadan, as well as serving an array of purposes all year round; temporary medical clinics, after-school and literacy tuition classes, etc...This brings back to mind the original all-inclusive function of the mosque, not only as a place for ritualistic worship but as a service center for both Muslims and non- Muslims alike.


Project name: Basuna Mosque (Al-Abu Stait) Architecture Firm: Dar Arafa Architecture – Waleed Arafa Completion Year: 2019 Project location: Basuna, al-Maraghah- Sohag, Egypt Principal Architect: Waleed Arafa

Website: https://www.dararafa.com

Instagram: https://www.instagram.com/dar_arafa_architecture/ Design Team: Nisreen Moustafa Clients: Dr. Usama al-Azhari Structural: Hisham Negm + Ahmed alHadary Structural supervision: Amr Haggag Steelwork for the Mihrab: Waleed Samir + Bishoy Nagy Mihrab inspired by original artwork “The Cube of Cubes” by Dr. Ahmed Moustafa


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 TDC Magazine is a digital publication and online magazine that serves as a curated, hand-picked and carefully edited assemblage of the latest in architecture, design and artAll our content has been collected and posted in good faith with due consent of the producer for informative purpose only. We do not copy, replicate, share or sell the information with any third party. We do not take responsibility for the reliability or accuracy of the posted information.