Anwar Sabbah Musallah, Community and cultural project of the year, MEA Awards 2017, Polypod

MEA Awards 2017: Polypod wins award for best community and cultural project

Lebanese architect firm Polypod took home the award for best community and cultural project of the year for its Anwar Sabbah Musallah project.

Photo by Ajith Narendra / ITP Images

The jury panel felt the project embodied a successful reinterpretation of religious, spiritual and community values. According to judges, it “responded to its brief with integrity, purpose and respect by incorporating architectural elements that not only enhanced and called attention to its space, but made sense within its context and to its community.”

Accepting the award was Polypod’s partner and lead architect, Hani Asfour. He said, “I have to commend the client for allowing us to back to Islamic roots. It was a natural thing to do and we tried to not be influenced by any designs.

“The client had showed us a mosque in downtown Beirut as an example of what he wanted – but I told him this probably wouldn’t be what he’ll get because we were looking at the Kaaba, and most mosques don’t look like that today. In the end, we tried to combine a little bit of both and it was an interesting journey.”

Clad completely in white stone, the 500m2 prayer hall is a leaning white cube, and all of the its architectural elements are multiples of three, five or seven – important numbers in Islam. Polypod also only used locally-sourced materials, like limestone and the marble fenestrations.

Highly commended in the category was Al Dana Mosque by X Architects. Judges praised its “integrity and continuity of materials and surfaces for both the exterior and interior of the project.”

View all the winners from the 2017 MEA Awards here.