Niger, Hikma, Studio Chahar, Atelier Masomi
James Wang, Mariama Kah

Diagrams of Niger's Bayt al-Hikma-inspired mosque and library illustrate a reinterpretation of traditional architecture

Diagrams and plans of a recently repurposed mosque in Niger's Dandaji village, inspired by Baghdad's Bayt Al-Hikma, or House of Wisdom, illustrate a reinterpretation of traditional Hausa mosque organisation.

Following the principles of 9th century AD Muslim scholars who coexisted in Baghdad's grand library and research centre, which once housed the world's largest collection of books for scholars to engage both theological and scientific matters, the Hikma project by Studio Chahar and Atelier Masomi serves as a culture and education hub for the surrounding community.

Site plan

"Today's religious climate could use such freedom to pursue knowledge alongside religious practice," said the architects. "With the support of local leaders, women and youth, the Hikma project reintroduces these values embedded in Islam itself by transforming a derelict mosque into a library that shares its site with a new mosque for the village of Dandaji."

Library plan

During the renovation of the building, the original masons were invited to join the project's team, during which they were introduced to adobe-enhancing additives and erosion protection techniques.

Instead of using commonly-sourced, but scarce wood, the interior renovation used metal for study spaces, partitions, stairs and a mezzanine level.

Library section

In addition to the contemporary structural support and details, the building's reinterpretation of Hausa mosque organisation is further illustrated in the two blocks and outdoor prayer spaces, which are suited to daily prayers, Friday assemblies and large Eid celebrations.

Mosque section

"The dialogue between the formal structure of the old and new leads to further collaboration between the traditional masons and the construction crew," said the architects.

Read more about the Hikma project here.