Winner of Best Freestanding Religious Structure 'Green Mosque'
Winner of Best Freestanding Religious Structure
'Green Mosque' by Onat Öktem - Ziya İmren - Zeynep Öktem - Uri Tzarnotzky
'The Building: Problem or Solution?' competition
Since the Ottoman tradition the mosques incorporate many different functions besides being only a
place for prayer. The project team thus decided to design not only a mosque but a religious complex
for various social activities and mutual aid.
The mosque complex, composed of the main mosque building, a library, education and lecture halls,
accompanied with a "soup kitchen", strengthens the idea of getting together and socializing as a
community, with social and cultural activities. Similarly the structure of the dome represents the
gathering function of the mosque with its structural units coming together to compose the dome shape.
The complex not only acts as a continuous interaction space but also respects its user’s privacy. The
ablution space and the prayer area are separated from the rest of the complex by different levels of
entrance. The level difference also enables the gradual transition from public to semi-public and finally
to private spaces of the complex.
The double-hull system in the mosque creates a thermal buffer zone between the main mass and
outside. This system which also helps to keep the calm environment in the prayer area, facilitates
internal heating in winter and also protects the interior zone from rain, snow and wind. In summer the
thermal buffer zone creates a cooler zone for the main mass. Additionally the vertical glass surfaces
create a spiritual atmosphere for the prayer area.
As the mosque is situated in a humid continental climate it is appropriate to benefit from the rain water
and solar properties of the area for a more sustainable usage. Solar thermal cells disposed on the
units composing the dome of the mosque, serve as an additional medium for water heating. Green
roofs of the library, soup kitchen and lecture rooms contribute to the insulation of the building, and to
the improved air quality, helping to lower urban air temperatures and combat the heat island effect.
A mosque necessitates more water than any other religious building because of the ablution ritual
before the prayer. In order to reduce the water consumption the project embodies several energyefficient
strategies. The rain water and waste water from ablution is collected so that the purified water
can be re-used for watering the vegetable garden with a high-efficiency drip irrigation system. For the
vegetable garden which aims to support the community, corn, onions and potatoes were selected
since they are easy to cultivate in this climate and in this geography and also they require less water to
grow. The products from the garden can be used to prepare meals for those who are in need, in the
community and can be dispatched in the “soup kitchen” which is integrated to the mosque complex.
Another feature that the mosque incorporates to reduce water consumption is low-flow toilets. Again
waterless urinals, low-flow faucets and water-efficient plumbing fixtures all contribute to water savings.
The water collected from the rain water and ablution water is also used for the toilet flushes.
As for the materials chosen for construction, the project team suggests using materials with recycled
content. According to the Wisconsin DNR "approximately 28% of waste, entering the municipal solid
waste stream is construction and demolition waste much of which is recyclable or reusable”[i].
Together with the reused materials, the project team considers the importance of using paints,
adhesives, and sealants that feature low chemical emissions for the sake of the environment. The use
of local materials for the construction and the interior design minimizes the energy spent for
transportation thus contributes to the sustainability goal of the project while also favoring the
development of the local industry.
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