Turkey’s Sancaklar Mosque wins the RIBA Award for International Excellence 2018
Sancaklar Mosque by EAA-Emre Arolat Architecture, Turkey, is among the 20 buildings that have received the RIBA Award for International Excellence. The 20 schemes were chosen from the entries for the RIBA International Prize, hailing from 16 countries, the winner of which will be announced in November 2018. The projects range from large urban infrastructure schemes, cultural destinations and educational buildings to civic spaces, private residences, and places of worship.
Sancaklar Mosque located in Buyuk Cekmece, a suburban neighbourhood in the outskirts of Istanbul, aims to address the fundamental issues of designing a mosque by distancing itself from the current architectural discussions based on form and focusing solely on the essence of religious space.
Located within a prairie landscape that is separated from the surrounding suburban gated communities by a busy highway. The high walls surrounding the park on the upper courtyard of the mosque depict a clear boundary between the chaotic outer world and the serene atmosphere of the public park.
The long canopy stretching out from the park becomes the only architectural element visible from the outside. The building is located below this canopy and can be accessed from a path from the upper courtyard through the park. The building blends in completely with the topography and the outside world is left behind as one moves through the landscape, down the hill and in between the walls to enter the mosque.
The interior of the mosque, a simple cave like space, becomes a dramatic and awe inspiring place to pray in solitude. The slits and fractures along the Qiblah wall enhances the directionality of the prayer space and allows daylight to filter into the prayer hall.
The project constantly plays off of the tension between man-made and natural. The contrast between the natural stone stairs following the natural slope of the landscape and the thin reinforced concrete slab spanning over six meters to form the canopy helps enhance this dual relationship.
The 20 projects were chosen from the entries for the RIBA International Prize, hailing from 16 countries, the winner of which will be announced in November 2018, awarded by a grand jury led by Elizabeth Diller, partner of acclaimed US firm, Diller Scofidio + Renfro. The participating projects range from large urban infrastructure schemes, cultural destinations and educational buildings to civic spaces, private homes, and places of worship.
The winning scheme will “exemplify design excellence, architectural ambition and deliver meaningful social impact.” The inaugural RIBA International Prize was awarded to Grafton Architects in 2016 for their outstanding university building, UTEC (Universidad de Ingeniería y Tecnología) in Lima, Peru. The firm’s founders, Yvonne Farrell & Shelley McNamara, are currently curating the 2018 Venice Architecture Biennale.
Meanwhile, the RIBA International Emerging Architect 2018 has been awarded to Gustavo Utrabo and Pedro Duschenes, founders of Brazilian firm Aleph Zero. Their “Children Village” scheme in Formoso do Araguaia, which they designed in collaboration with Rosenbaum, features on the longlist for the 2018 International Prize, providing accommodation for 540 disadvantaged senior school children. Constructed from prefabricated and reforested wood, the scheme demonstrated the value of community, and the importance of using natural resources in an informed, sustainable way.