Rowan Moore reviewed The British Mosque: An Architectural and Social History by Shahed Saleem in The Guardian on March 13, 2018.
A mosque is more about process, argues Saleem, than it is about the finished product. It is about the often slow, “iterative” business by which a community defines its needs, finds a site, raises money and commissions a building.
Mosques, he says, are “vehicles for the dynamic reconstruction of tradition” and their conservatism can be explained as a reaction to both racism and homesickness for countries of origin.
His own preferences do, however, become clear, in a non-traditional mosque that he has himself designed in Bethnal Green, London. He also likes the abstractly Islamic Cambridge mosque, now being built to the designs of Marks Barfield, architects of the London Eye. And, surely, the future of mosque design should indeed be about finding a British Islamic way of building to stand alongside – rather than copy – those of the Mahgreb, or Turkey, or the subcontinent. Just don’t expect this transformation to happen quickly.I have not read the book. Find it in a library near you.