Mosques and their surrounding spaces have traditionally been considered civilization hearths. A mosque’s building is not a mere virtual space that is used by the believers. This building is part of the city and as a consequence, it belongs to all its citizens. The mosque and the square in front of it, give shape to a public urban space that goes in line with the cultural and traditional values shared amongst the believers who belong to the city – a place of intercultural identity.
The location of the mosque was predefined in the general urban plan to be in the same place where the old mosque was situated. At this point, the role and impact of this new place of worship in the city center was clear. Several technical details, like the maximum dome and minarets’ height, and the adaptation of the façade in conformity with the boulevard were set in collaboration with the city council. These “rules” were not considered restrictions, but more like guidelines to a better performing urban solution.
A mosque’s building should be in harmony with contemporary or “modern” interpretations of Islamic features – which are composed as such to ensure timelessness. Therefore, the physical and material matter that represents these values is less important. Studies show that the element of minaret is a later addition to the mosques. Its importance came out of the necessity to better distribute the sounds during ezan (call for payer) from a higher point. This means that its role is mainly functional and not religious. In different places where Islam is practiced, mosques and minarets are very different from one another. Therefore, one can say that each mosque and minaret has set/created its own tradition, the same way the ones built in the Ottoman Empire have.
A fully spiritual and symbolic atmosphere that stimulates strong feelings and emotions for the believers is sought in the building of Ballie Mosque. The design aimed to find good solutions on important features that make up emotional architectural compositions – like the light penetration, sound distribution, and material use – in order to make room for a space that enables the relationship of humans with the Creator. We believe that this is the most appropriate interpretation of the Islamic tradition, and therefore the materialization in terms of form and shape is less important to this aim.