The striking Qatar Faculty for Islamic Studies building in Education City has been selected as a finalist for a new world architecture prize as “the most significant and inspirational building of the year.”
The complex, which opened in March 2015 after three years of construction, is the only building in the Gulf to be considered for the first Royal Institute of British Architects (RIBA) International Prize.
In a statement issued yesterday, RIBA said the 30 contenders were chosen from hundreds of applications submitted from 50 countries.
The long-list comprises of more than two dozen buildings from 20 countries globally, which will be pared down over the coming six months.
During the summer, an awards committee will visit all of the selected buildings, and make a shortlist of 20 entries, which will be further reduced to a final six.
Each of these will be visited by a grand jury during the autumn, and the winning entry will be announced in December.
Qatar will face competition from entries across the world.
Other nominees include a contemporary arts center in the Azores islands, a farming kindergarten in Vietnam, a public library in China, a Catholic church in Germany and a concert hall in Norway.
There is one other mosque in the running, Sancaklar Mosque in Istanbul, Turkey.
In its statement, RIBA said:
“The RIBA International Prize will be awarded to ‘the most significant and inspirational building of the year.’
The winning building will demonstrate visionary, innovative thinking and excellence of execution, whilst making a distinct contribution to its users and to its physical context.”
The jury will be chaired by British architect Richard Rodgers, whose previous work includes the Pompidou Center in Paris, London’s Millennium Dome (now 02 Arena) and the European Court of Human Rights building in Straasbourg.
Rodgers is also the 2007 Pritzker Architecture Prize Laureate and the recipient of the RIBA Gold Medal in 1985.
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Joining him on the panel is Billie Tsien, founding partner of Tod Williams Billie Tsien Architects | Partners based in New York City; Kunlé Adeyemi, founder and principal of NLÉ; Marilyn Jordan Taylor FAIA, the dean of architecture at the University of Pennsylvania’s School of Fine Arts; and Philip Gumuchdjian, founder of Gumuchdjian Architects and Chair of RIBA Awards.
RIBA President Jane Duncan said in a statement: “We have been delighted with the response to our inaugural RIBA International Prize, which has brought a huge range of exceptional entries from all around the globe.”
It took the Day 2 prize for religious buildings at the World Architecture Festival’s awards last November, and was highly commended by judges, who praised it as representing “a cultural breakthrough where client and architect have produced a remarkable building.”
The QFIS includes a huge, white, cavernous mosque with a capacity for 1,800 people. The ceiling is adorned with Qu’ranic verses, and also has small lights reminiscent of twinkling stars.
The complex has a male prayer room on the first floor, which also has a library and a large gilded mehrab in a Qur’an verse-lined alcove.
The female gallery room has a separate seating area that is sectioned off from the main prayer room by a high wall that separates the two genders.
The mosque rests on five structural pillars to symbolize the five pillars of Islam. The pillars are decorated with verses, while underneath water flows from an outer garden.
It has two, 90m-high minarets, and Islamic calligraphy is inscribed on almost every element of the structure’s surface, from roofs to ceramic tiles to glass windows.
The university also includes 54 classrooms, offices and a library, in addition to five research centers.