Muslim communities are redesigning their places of worship to make them more environmentally friendly.
The dainty onion domes that often adorn minarets – the tall spires from which Muslims are called to prayer – have always had an environmentally friendly function. As the dome is heated by the sun, it draws air from inside the mosque and releases it, acting as a natural cooling system.
Now, architects and Muslim communities are taking this principle a step further, adding wind turbines and solar panels to create a new generation of eco-mosques.
Among the first to take action were residents in the Turkish village of Buyukeceli. In 2010 they decided to champion renewable energy because they were unhappy about proposals for a nearby nuclear power plant. After being denied permission to put solar panels on the roof of a school, they chose to retrofit their local mosque. Greenpeace provided a string of photovoltaic panels to meet all of the mosque’s electricity needs, and within ten days they were in place. A green roof has also been installed.
Over in Germany, meanwhile, eco-architect Selcuk Ünyilmaz is designing a new mosque for the northern city of Norderstedt, which will be one of the first to use the minarets to harness the power of the wind. The mosque will have two 22-metre towers, with a pair of 1.5-metre glass rotor blades in each to generate a third of the building’s electricity. Replacing a more ramshackle house of worship for 200 Muslims, the new mosque will be part of a €2.5m complex, to include entertainment and retail facilities. Funding is yet to be confirmed. – Sylvia Rowley