Since the 19th Century, Muslim traders started settling in Chiang Mai. Althought relatively young compare to the Chiang Mai itself, the community provided much in terms of political praticipation and ecomony. Over the years the community had integrated so well into the Chiang Mai society while maintaining their Islamic Identity althought that is not the case for architecture. Located on the outskirts of Chiang Mai city between Mahidol Road and Somphot Chiang Mai Road. The site is selected due to its potential to reach out to several muslim communities in the area. The project questions the typical way of interpreting mosque, employing a more vernacular architectural language – insterting itself seamlessly into the rich and multiculture context of Chiang Mai. The design employs multiple tools, such as human perception, daylight design, multisensory design and approach sequences, to achive a truely peaceful space suited for prayer.
The building is organized as parts of interconnecting spaces linked together by semi-outdoor corridors. Social activity areas, such as banquet hall, exhibition hall and residence, are separated from the prayer hall to provide a peaceful and serene atmosphere for the worshippers. Once the worshippers are separated from the profane world, the approach is split in two, one for men and one for women in accordance to teachings in Islam. Furthur pass the ablution area is the prayer hall where the daily prayers are performed. The hall is situated in the reflecting pool to furthur separate it from the profane world and is oriented towards Mecca with fundamental elements such as mihrab(niche) and qibla wall to mark the direction and a minbar(pulpit) on the right for Friday sermons. The design at the same time adopt Islamic design values and address the local spirit and needs of Chiang Mai Muslim communities.
Above – Instead of the typical ablution area where the space is treated almost as a service space, the design added this space into the approach sequences where the ablution area provide calmness throught the creation of comfortable atmosphere by adding moisture , natural ventilation and tree shades to the area. This is also a metaphor for the garden of paradise which is mentioned frequently in the Quran and many Islamic garden, establishing a connection to both the local traditions and the Islamic ones.
Before entering the prayer hall on the 1st floor, worshippers will be walking throught water which provide moisture to the air thus bringing the worshippers closer to human comfort zone. This act is also a metaphor for purification, in addition to the act of abblution, as water is a symbol of purity in Islam. The prayer hall is design to be as simple as possible with only the essential elements such as mihrab, qibla wall and minbar. This is to prevent distractions during prayers. Usually prayer halls employ domes which is a symbol of paradise but to Chiang Mai it seems alien and out of place which is not this project’s intention. So the project sort out an alternative in which is already given in the Quran where paradise are often described as the garden of pleasure “…good tidings to those who believe and do righteous deeds that they will have gardens [in Paradise] beneath which rivers flow…” (Q. 2:25). The design is a metaphor to those phrases where the prayer hall sits on top of a pool which represents the flowing rivers and the prayer hall represents the garden throught the structure and daylight design which mimics that of a tree.
As for the rest of the social activity spaces, they are emphasized on the flexibility where the banquet hall can accomodat multiple functions such as conference, exhibition, marriage ceremony, etc. The plaza infront of the project is also another vital part of the design in which the communities can use it to set up flea market during Ramadan month and other festivals and once unused the plaza provides parking spaces for the worshippers and visitors alike.
Above – The prayer hall is oriented towards Meca where the rest of the project is oriented in accordance to the site. The design considers the nature of the site which is surrounded by local roads. This is rather advantageous to the design which intended for the project to be overt and inclusive – welcoming visitors of all believes and religions.
Above – Longtitudinal section of the prayer shows the connection between the indoor space and the outdoor garden. Where the daily prayer took place on the 1st floor, the ground can accomodate additional worshippers during two Eids and the Ramadan.