Islamic Religious and Cultural Center

Ljubljana, Slovenia, 2011

religious, cultural and educational center

open international competition

Islamic Comunity in Republic of Slovenia

Parmova street, Ljubljana

Site area
17.090 m2

Building area
2.500 m2

Total floor area
5.190 m2

3 underground + ground floor + 2 + roof terrace

mosque, library, offices, storage, lecture room

reinforced concrete, steel

hollow teracotta hexagons, round glass bricks, metal mesh

SADAR+VUGA (Jurij Sadar, Boštjan Vuga, Jure Hrovat, Ognen Arsov, Peter Sovinc, Andreas Cesarini, Kristina Lopinsky)

Our proposal for Islamic religious and cultural center in Ljubljana stands on a triangular site.  On one side sits a railway line, on the other a new road, which will separate the new Islamic Center from the development area ​at the end of Parmova street. On the north side, the area of the Center connects to the Railway Museum with a park complex. The park complex stretches around the Center by the railway until the end of new road. The Islamic Center is situated within a public park defined by tall trees and green grassy areas, which gradually become paved walkways of the Center. The Center is designed as an ‘Open Center,’ where the urban public space softly intertwines with programmed space. There are no additional borders, walls and fences that separate us from the city. Because of restrictions on the location the Center is spatially and functionally designed to emphasize its openness, not only to Muslim believers but to all citizens.  The distribution of external and internal spaces attracts not only the Muslim community, but all citizens interested in a diverse mixture of cultural activities. The Islamic Center becomes the scene for many multicultural activities in the city.

The Center consists of six terraced square prisms, five of which are inverted, widening as their height increases. The large mosque prism narrows towards the top. Prisms are connected in the corners to form four atriums, each with its distinctive character: the entrance atrium, a central atrium with a fountain in front of the mosque, a raised atrium at the divanhani and library, and youth atrium at the amphitheatre. On the roof of the five inverted prisms there are raised gardens, designed as a modern interpretation of an Islamic geometric garden.

The basic elements are the large horizontal bars, which are penetrated by day and artificial light. The Center is designed as abstract as possible, using the play of light and tectonics of building masses. With coverings and openings, a spatial effect is achieved that is both contemporary and rudimentary. Despite its abstract design, an atmosphere close to Islamic world is established. The vertical minaret and typical Islamic gardens on the roof of the Centre are the only direct reference design from the rich Islamic architecture pallet.

The main access to the interior of the Center is through the entrance atrium at the new extension of Parmova road. A twelve meter high cascaded prism with a restaurant above the auditorium is moved away from the main mosque. At the mosque stands the minaret, a hollow 40m high obelisk, a traditional Turkish minaret abstraction, a distinguished vertical mark of the center. The Center is designed as a transitional facility in the park, where through three atriums all parts of the Center are accessible. When passing atriums, the character of open space is changing softly: from the public green park on the north through the atrium of youth; from the street through the entrance atrium and from the south park through two narrow passages we access the main atrium with fountain. The entire Center is designed as a series of discontinuous spaces where we are moving through the narrow passages from one open atmosphere to another. The overall design is based the exchange between open and closed, full and empty space, between the light and visual permeability and impermeability. Ambiences are expanding and narrowing toward the top. This is a game between positive and negative, between dark and light, between repetition and variation. The entire complex of the Centre is designed as a simple derivation of volumetric Islamic geometric patterns.

The mosque is the only one of the six prisms of the Islamic Religious  and Cultural Center which is narrowing towards the top. Built by six square planes, bounded by four-meter tectonic carriers; altogether 24 carriers. They are spaced to each other so that day light penetrates to the interior along the length of the carriers and at the corners. The carries appear to be floating. Through the prism top, a square area with small and irregular round holes, rays of light penetrate into the interior. In front of brackets throughout the interior, light wood perforated screens are hanging to soften the light. Opposite the entrance, perforated screens are wider apart, so that between minerb and kjurs a niche is showing direction to Mecca. The screens shade the entrance to the main praying surface and make a fence around first and second praying gallery.  On this height the field of light dots accumulates an effect of a large chandelier. Natural and artificial lighting highlight the sacredness of the mosque interior.