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Sheikh Zayed Grand Mosque

Breathtaking view.

Words fail me when it comes to describe how wonderful this Holy place is.
I know I will write many other posts about this beautiful Mosque, but this time I would like to concentrate on its stunning architecture, to try at least to give an idea of how impressive this religious landmark is.

The Sheikh Zayed Grand Mosque was built between 1996 and 2007, and takes its name from Sheikh Zayed Bin Sultan Al Nahyan, who is buried at the site.

With its 22,000m2 of space, it is the third largest Mosque in the world, being able to welcome between 30.000 and 40.000 worshippers at any given time.
The main courtyard, a space of 17,000 m2, features the largest mosaic floor in the world.

The Mosque is visible from the three main bridges connecting the island to mainland Abu Dhabi: Maqta bridge, Mussafah bridge and Sheikh Zayed Bridge. This geographical positioning is a symbol of the connection between the whole city and its Grand Mosque.

Amongst many wonders, it is home to 82 domes, over a thousand columns, four minarets standing over 100m high, the world’s largest hand-knotted carpet (measuring 5,627 m2 and weighing 32 Ton) and some of the world’s largest chandeliers, incorporating millions of Swarovsky crystals.

The Islamic religious calendar is based on the lunar cycle, hence the moon has been used as source of inspiration and design motif across the whole building.
The Mosque’s look is based on a full moon with clouds moving across its face: a system of hidden projectors create this impression, and the clouds are drifting from the direction of Mecca.


So peaceful.

As the lunar cycle changes, the building is lit in different ways: even if to the naked eye might be hard to notice these changes, the Mosque has been designed so that with the full moon it appears basking in bright white light, but as the days go on and the moon wanes, the building gradually becomes lit by a bluer, darker light.

Built in concrete and then clad with marble from Macedonia, this Mosque is a masterpiece of both traditional and innovative Islamic art. Materials for its completion were sourced from many countries including Greece, Italy, Germany, China, Austria, India and New Zealand, just to name a few.


Golden lights.

Thanks to the many lanterns and artificial lighting, the Mosque is just as stunning in the evening than under the sun: the building’s ‘glow’ comes from the many carved wood latticework (the Mashrabiya) and from the expert lighting of each material used in the interiors: marble panels, glass mosaics, carved gypsum panels and calligraphy have all been lit so to highlight their texture and natural veining.

Inside the Mosque, the Qibla prayer wall, pointing to Mecca, is a luminous panel where end-emitting fibre illuminates a gold-mesh curtain, concealed behind the 99 inscribed names of Allah, while side glow fibres reveal the organic forms of vine fronds.

This is an amazing religious space and a true architectural wonder. Thanks also to the fountains reflecting the beautiful courtyard’s columns and the perfectly groomed gardens, the Grand Mosque takes my breath away every time I catch even just a glimpse of it.


(Source 1) (Source 2) (Source 3)

You can also see this interesting video about how the suggestive lighting effect was achieved, featuring more images of this wonderful Holy place.

Official Website: Sheikh Zayed Grand Mosque Centre
Where it is:
City East
Designed by: Spatium, Halcrow Group, Speirs and Major.


The Gate Towers

The Gate Towers at night.
Anyone else thinking about Tron?

These striking residential and commercial towers are not quite finished yet, but as of summer 2013 they are 98.28% complete, so they are nearly there. (source and source)

They are composed of three 65-storeys towers and a two-storeys penthouse bridge delicately sitting on top of them, which standing at over 240 meters it is believed to be the highest in the world of a residential kind. The bridge is also the largest and highest to ever been lifted, with its first two sections weighing 750-ton. The fourth and final section took four days to be forklifted in place. (source and source)

Click here to see interesting photos from the construction site which clearly showcase the incredible height of the penthouse bridge.

In recent times, the concept of ‘skybridges’ has become more and more popular in the world (see the Marina Bay Sand in Singapore or – somehow – the Elephant Tower in Bangkok) however no building reaches world-record numbers quite as these stunning Abu Dhabi towers.

What personally strikes me the most is that, despite its fantastic modernity, this is basically what Stonehenge would look like if it had been made by aliens. And I love it.

Where it is: Al Reem Island
Designed by: Arquitectonica, Khatib and Alami, Sorouh/Aldar, Hill International.


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