An Italian architect has a bold plan to build a solar-powered spherical Mosque in the center of Pristina but the local Islamic community is not impressed
As an entrant into the “Design the central Mosque in Pristina” competition organized by the Islamic Community of Kosovo, Paolo Venturella’s design has been one of the most controversial of the 81 projects submitted before the March deadline.
Venturella’s Mosque integrates the qibla wall, which Muslims should face when praying the salah, with a giant, glassy sphere. The sphere serves two purposes: first, it’s a modern take on the concave semi-circle orienting Muslims towards Mecca found in most Mosques, and second, the curved surface allows for the maximum penetration of sunlight throughout the day.
The entire surface of the Mosque is covered in shutters with horizontal slats that allow light and air in, but keep rain, direct sunshine, and noise out. The Mosque’s interior would be divided into several floors, with a larger space allocated for Fridays and special events. Other sections would bring women and men together.
Reactions to this entry have been polarizing. As one critic commented, “There are some important elements of Mosque design that have not been included. The minaret is not there and dome at the top as well.” Another was more succinct: “it looks like a Jesus fish”.
Other commenters offered more positive feedback. “It’s a simple concept smoothly integrated with technology. Looks great, but I wonder if they were filling up water balloons when they thought this one up.”
But it seems the Islamic Community of Kosovo were not impressed with any of the competition’s entrants, several of which looked like gaudy night clubs. They even refused to give out the first place prize of 25,000 Euros to any of the designers. So revisions of the original ideas continue.
While the solar-powered dome-shaped “futuristic” Mosque may have been a bit too modern for the Islamic Community of Kosovo, the Grand Mufti of Kosovo, Naim Ternava, explained that he hoped the new Mosque would be a modern one. “This Mosque shall be a place where understanding, humanity, tolerance, respect and sincere love shall be cultivated and where enlightening values shall be brought forward,” he said in the call for design proposals.