This past Friday I helped organise a tour to the soon to be completed Houghton Jumuah Masjid in Houghton, Johannesburg.
It was a resounding success attended by some 140 people, all curious and eager to get a feel for the Sacred before it officially opens.
The design was a collaboration between Muhammad Mayet Architects + Urban Designers and the acclaimed Abdel Wahed el Wakil.
The mosque has been under construction for years now, and having played a small role in getting the building off the ground, has a very special place in my heart. The mosque was envisioned in 1998 when Saudi royalty visited the country and expressed to Nelson Mandela the desire to contribute a piece of legacy to the area.
Muhammad Mayet has also played a critical role in my architectural career. I completed my intern year at his office and it is there that I learnt about the essence of architecture – the truth with which one must deal with buildings, space and people. And it is through his mentorship that I found my place in architecture. He will always be a figure that I look up to, and having him lead this tour truly gave it the justice that it deserves for me.
The mosque has all the elements of Islamic Architecture that one would expect, with adaptation to the Highveld climate and its immediate contextual requirements.
The quality of space and light is truly unbelievable. Successful architecture, I believe, evokes the right emotion through spatial elements and architectural definitions. In this space, one feels pure, redeemed, accessible, faithful, and welcomed, irrespective of religious affiliation.
The detailing is immaculate, staying ‘true to its materiality’ which is an essential part of Islamic Architecture.
Visible from the busiest highway in the southern hemisphere, the M1, the site comprises 1.4 hectares. The mosque is just phase one of an ambitious plan to construct an Islamic centre complete with library, auditorium and conference centre. The mosque will accommodate 2 000 people, and the upstairs section will be exclusively for women.
The attendees all expressed their enthusiasm and admiration at the space and were all equally inspired.
The best part of the tour for me, was definately climbing to the top of the minaret, some 40m above ground, and overlooking a gorgeous, Jacaranda filled Johannesburg.
Thank you Muhammad for allowing us to experience such beauty at its most pure detail. I cannot wait now to be able to pray in this space!