Qatar Faculty of Islamic Studies

White neon figure, extracted from the artists' website:

White neon figure embodies a sense of fragility and re-introduces a human gesture into this highly designed architectural space. The human graphic gesture, as found in drawing, handwriting, engraving and mark making in general, contains at once universal and very individual characteristics: universal in that all human beings engage in gestural mark making of one kind or another, and individual in that this is often culturally, linguistically and individually bound. It is this duality – macro/micro - that intrigues us about the human drawn line. 

White neon figure could therefore be described as an abstract human gesture, not a human form but a human trace. The work is composed of a number of fine white neon hand drawn lines, rather like filaments, that have been sculpted into a fragile suspended form. The hand drawn quality of each line is carefully retained and reproduced precisely in the treatment of the neon. This nuanced, sensitive working of neon is a leitmotif of our practice, something we have explored for many years and it acts as an anti-dote to the ubiquitous, standardised neon ‘vernacular’ to be found around the world.

The colour white we have chosen for the universality of its resonance, the purity of its light and for its understated elegance, which is appropriate to the space. White neon is particularly beautiful and has an ephemeral delicacy that we believe would add something of real significance in this particular context. The palette of white neon offers considerable choice (from cool to warm) and we will give consideration to the best hue of white for this work and this space during detailed design stage.

Housed in a vast transparent ‘jar’, White neon figure seems to float and emits a white glow that infuses the space around it. The work is left open to multiple metaphor: suggestive of neurons, of root systems, or simply the complex pattern of veins within a single leaf, it is, of course, none of these. It is unclassifiable, unnameable but silently linked to all that is human.

The Qatar Faculty of Islamic Studies [QFIS] and Education City

From Mangera Yvars Architects website:

The Qatar Faculty of Islamic Studies [QFIS] is located on the Education City Campus, Doha, adjacent to OMA Central Library, Texas A+M and Cornell University. QFIS is the only indigenous Qatari University on the Education City Campus. 

The scheme accommodates teaching and faculty space, a research centre and the Education City campus mosque. Our proposal was developed by reworking the historical ‘Kulliyya’ or ‘place where all knowledge is sought’ to provide a progressive learning environment for both male and female students and which places Qatar at the forefront of contemporary Islamic discourse. 

The idea of the Kulliyya implies that knowledge and faith are interwoven but that all knowledge ultimately comes from faith. This relationship is explored through the infinite spiral form of the building and the many pathways which bind faculty to mosque. 

The building narrative is underscored by ribbon of Islamic calligraphy which runs from the mihrab or focal point of the mosque through to the faculty areas. In the faculty the ribbon becomes an exhibition surface which illustrates great moments in the development of Islamic art and architecture – from the Umayyad period through to present day. Contemporary art including graffiti from prominent Arabic artists is also included. 

The spiral form of the building defines the mosque at one end and creates two cantilevered minarets up to 90m high at the other. The spiral offers multiple routes through the faculty gardens and teaching areas towards the mosque. This approach suggests that there are many pathways in life to light – some may find light whilst others may embark on different and more personal journeys- perhaps never seeking or discovering light. 

In the absence of physical context, the building gently navigates the site to carve out a Four Part Islamic Garden around the perimeter of building. The resulting themed garden is based on an interpretation of Jannah [paradise] and contains the four rivers of paradise which are the rivers of wine, milk, honey and water. The mosque itself is elevated on the five pillars of Islam through which the rivers flow. 

The mosque is accessed from a large staircase through the faculty gardens. The forecourt of the mosque accommodates an outdoor prayer space and a tea pavilion. The mosque itself is developed as flexible prayer space and learning arena which also acts as the campus community hub. 

The academic program is distributed in three main areas. Classrooms are organized in west facing clusters around smaller scale courtyards inscribed with historical botanical and scientist manuscripts. The library is located at first floor level and is placed on stepped terraces to create learning zones. The library is also provided with an outdoor and reading deck overlooking the Islamic gardens. 

Faculty offices are located in the eastern wing of the building on four levels with deep courtyards. The offices are separated from the mosque by a four story ablution cascade at the rear of prayer hall. 

Aside from the formal teaching space, the scheme incorporates multiple informal learning areas- from ‘learning corridors’ through to ‘learning lounges’, and outdoor learning space in the Islamic garden. This ad-hoc approach is a deliberate attempt to provide creative interdisciplinary spaces which support encounters between students, staff and other education city faculties. 

The building is clad in white GRC panels with inlaid ceramics highlighting selected areas. The tiling has been uniquely developed from a morphing Islamic pattern which has been optimized to respond to the buildings contours. The pattern appears and disappears through the building and can be read as the effective DNA of project. The scheme is currently under construction.

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