Published on: Mar 3, 2016
Transcripts - National mosque
Architectural Culture and History 2 [ARC 60203]
Project 2: Web Book Report
Lecturer: Ms Ida Mazlan/ Ms Siti Balkish Roslan
Tang Pei Kei (0318545)
Tey Thien Hee (0318676)
Wong Carol (0317742)
Yeoh Xiang An (0322691)
Site Context Analysis 6-11 Tang Pei Kei/
Architectural Layout of Building 12-16 Wong Carol
Architecture Style Analysis 17-19 Yeoh Xiang An
Building Construction, Structure 20-28 Tang Pei Kei
& Materials Analysis
Architectural Elements/ 29-37 Tey Thien Hee
The National Mosque was constructed in 1965 as a symbol of a newly independent and
united Malaysia (Expedia; 2015). The combination of cutting-edge modernist design and Islamic
symbolism original structure was designed by a three-person team from the Public Works
Department: UK architect Howard Ashley, and Malaysians Hisham Albakri and Baharuddin
Kassim. This beautiful 13-acre (5.2-hectare) landmark in downtown Kuala Lumpur is surrounded
by pools, fountains and gardens, which to harmonize with surroundings.
Approaching the enormous mosque, the bright blue folded plates of the main dome
and the 240-foot (73-meter) high minaret (tower) are eye-catching. The two features are taken
the inspiration from an umbrella to represent Malaysia’s tropical climate. The top of the
minaret takes the shape of a retracted umbrella while the main dome resembles one fully
extended. Throughout the complex are 48 smaller domes that sit atop sheltered walkways and
administrative quarters (Expedia; 2015).
There’s enough room for 15,000 people in the mosque, therefore making it one of the
largest mosques in Asia. Inside the main prayer hall is a large space with intricately patterned
walls, coloured-glass windows and elaborate chandeliers. National Mosque also consists of
landscaped gardens, fountains, pools and a decorated courtyard.
Attached to the mosque is the Makam Pahlawan, or Heroes’ Mausoleum, which placed
the bodies of key Malaysian political figures. It features a dome similar in design to the main
mosque, and is surrounded by a moat and garden.
Figure 1.1 Overview of the National Mosque, the bird-eye view shows the unique features on this mosque are the
employment of multi-folded ‘umbrella’ roof in the main prayer hall, the attached Heroes’ Mausoleum, and the
minaret of the mosque.
Masjid Negara is a national legacy, which built between 1963 and 1965. The idea to
build a national mosque to memorialize Malaysia’s independence was suggested by the Federal
Executive Council a month before independence ceremony. The Chief Ministers of all eleven
states in the-then Federation of Malaya brought up a proposal to name the mosque after the
country’s first Prime Minister, Tunku Abdul Rahman Putra Al-Haj in March 1958 to recognize his
contribution to the country’s independence. However, Tunku had declined this honour and
suggested that the mosque be named Masjid Negara instead, to symbolize the country’s unity
and multi-cultural harmony, as well as a way to give thanks to Allah for the country’s peaceful
independence – achieved without a single drop of blood being shed.
The Mosque’s took about three years for designing, taking inspiration from the mosque
in India, Pakistan, Iran, Turkey, Saudi Arabia, the UAE and Spain. Its most significant features are
its 73-metre-hig minaret, which resembles a folded umbrella, and its 16-point concrete roof’s
unique design gives one the impression of standing beneath a gigantic open umbrella. In the
middle of the roof are engravings of Quranic verses on aluminium, inspired by Istanbul’s Blue
Mosque. The mosque had undergone major renovations in 1987, replacing the colour of the
concrete dome from pink to a more striking green-and-blue (Islamic Tourism Centre of Malaysia,
Figure 1.2 The multipurpose hall back in 60’s. Figure 1.3 The minaret standing tall at the 60’s.
Site Context Analysis
The National Mosque is strategically located in a section of the government
administration enclave in Kuala Lumpur. It stands diagonally opposite the Central Railway
Station on 13 acres of low, flat land along Sultan Hishamuddin Road at the east, Young Road at
the north and Lembah Venning Road at the south boundary. There is an underground walkway
that connects the mosque to the railway station, providing easy access to and from any part of
the city. The mosque faces the main road where public facilities like schools and other
prominent buildings such as the General Post Office headquarters and recreational parks like
the Lake Garden are located.
Figure 2.1 Location plan of National Mosque Figure 2.2 Position and setting of National Mosque
(Ismail 2007) (Ismail 2007)
Figure 2.3 Access and compound wall of National Mosque Figure 2.4 Relationship of access to National
(Ismail 2007) Mosque (Ismail 2007)
Relationship of buildings with surrounding(similarities and differences)
Dayabumi Complex is one of the buildings which nearby The National Mosque. The
Dayabumi Complex was loosely inspired by Moorish Islamic buildings, covered with stunning
latticework elegantly patterned with the eight-pointed stars of the Islamic motifs and painted
white to represent the purity of Islam. These elements are also found in The National Mosque,
Figure 2.5 Dayabumi Complex built in 1970s, which inspired by Moorish Islamic building. The facade of the tower is
adorned with patterns of eight-pointed stars, and Islamic arches at the top and bottom of the tower.
Sultan Abdul Samad Building is another famous landmark located near National
Mosque.It was designed by A.C. Norman during the British Administration in Malaysia. The
building was completed in 1897 and previously housed the superior courts until the courts
moved to Putrajaya in 2007. The plans were then redesigned and based on the Moorish
architecture that Norman saw while in Africa, with a hint of Islamic design based on the
mosques he saw in India. The verandas have various styles of arches, including horseshoe
arches and pointed arches, which are present in many Mughal buildings. The differences
between this building and National mosque is National Mosque has wide and large verandah
while Sultan Abdul Samad Building has narrow verandah. Besides that, verandah at National
Mosque is open and without any arches unlike verandah in Sultan Abdul Samad building.
Figure 2.6 Sultan Abdul Samad Building built in 1897, based on the Moorish and Islamic architecture. It was
constructed of red bricks with white plaster line arched and has a 2 metres wide verandah around both floors.
The old railway station is a Moorish-style structure that was built in 1910. It is located
diagonally opposite of National Mosque and easily accessed from Chinatown and Lake Garden
area. The old railway station building is a mixture of Western and Mughal similar to Moorish
Revival or Indo-Saracenic architecture. Therefore, the national mosque and this old railway
station building share the same architectural style.
In conclusion, currently Kuala Lumpur seems to be identified with the monstrous pieces
of modern architecture that rob these four buildings of the attention that they deserve.
Figure 2.7 The old railway station built in 1910, based on Moorish architecture style and incorporated the unique
Anglo-Asian architecture in the region on the station's design
Respond to climate
The mosque’s design is suitable for the local climate. The main roof is reminiscent of an
open umbrella. The folded plates of the concrete main roof are a creative solution to achieving
the larger spans required in the main gathering hall. Reflecting pools and fountains spread
throughout the compound it can cool down the temperature of the surrounding. These design a
suitable for Malaysia’s climate which rain throughout the year. (Figure 2.8)
The open and large veranda surroundings the mosque and provides the building good
ventilation. Prayers and visitors do not feel stuffy and hot in the building even in the afternoon.
As well as the wall screening around the building, it blocks the harsh sunlight from entering the
building but do not block the ventilation. Thus keep the building in a comfortable temperature.
Figure 2.8 16-pointed star concrete main roof that Figure 2.9 Large opening veranda to allow a breeze to
designed to accommodate the climate of Malaysia. flow through the structure.
Architectural layout of building
Plan to elevation analysis
Figure3.1: plan of national mosque kl
Figure3.2: elevation of national mosque kl
Built in the early 1960s, the National Mosque in Kuala Lumpur still stands today as a
unique contribution to the idea of mosque architecture as well as a monument to the strife for
a national architecture identity.
National Mosque, Kuala Lumpur is uniquely designed by combining contemporary
architecture with the Islamic traditional arts. The mosque is comprised of two floors. The first
floor consists of main prayer hall, administrative office, library, royal antechamber, imam’s
room, verandah area, conference hall, mausoleum and rectangular pool where the minaret is
located and a covered walkway which provides access to the mausoleum. The sleek minaret of
73000mm in height is definitely not used by the mosque but just an ornament to complement
the mosque building is built in the middle of the building which is beside the main prayer hall.
Women’s prayer space is separated located on a mezzanine floor above the main prayer
hall. This space is accessible by two concrete staircases that located on either side of the front
entrance to the main prayer hall. The classrooms service areas and ablution facilities are
located at the ground floor area.
Next, The National Mosque layout portrays a ‘space within’ spatial relationship. In this
type of space relationship, there exists visual and spatial continuity between the inner and
external spaces. The prayer hall is also positioned and orientated according to the same grid
lines of the verandah area. The verandah acts as an ancillary or transition space before entering
the primary area. Although the overall spaces in the mosque complex are in the form of one
assemblage focusing at the center, it presents a loosely controlled combination of spaces.
This is because the existence of pathways from multiple entrances that link the main
prayer hall and secondary areas. The path configuration inside the mosque is not based on a
straight linear path where dominant axial path organizes the series of space and movement.
Instead, it portrays a configuration of pathways that is designed based on “fringy syntax”,
wherein is punctuated by a series of important nodes like the reflecting pool and covered
pavilion. This ‘fringy syntax’ employs a combination of movement patterns due to nodes like
the reflecting pool, covered pavilion and open courtyard that punctuate the paths of movement
throughout the building (Ismail, 2007).
Circulation to Use Space
The overall floor plan of the mosque makes it complicated to look for the prayer hall.
There are a number of staircases that lead to the prayer hall but it is very difficult to ascertain
the particular staircase that walks to the main entrance of the prayer hall. Most visitors will
reach the hall through one of many staircases that leads to an unnecessary courtyard area,
which in turn leads to the left or right side of the Qibla wall (Ezrin Arbi; 2014).
Furthermore, the main entrance of the prayer hall is situated opposite to the Qibla
direction and in order to get to the main entrance, visitors have to walk alongside the prayer
hall area. This action will distract the visitors praying in the hall whether alone or in
congregation. Even though the perimeter of the prayer hall is full of glazed walls, the scenario
inside is totally different. The hall is rather huge but somehow provides the feeling of
tranquility. Even though there are a lot of columns erected in a circular formation to be the
Figure3.3: Analysis of floor plan circulation
footprint of the ‘umbrella’ roof, they do not seem to disturb the prayer lines (safs) because the
diameter span is quite far apart.
Balance is achieved through the structural plan of this mosque in terms of golden ration,
proportion and spatial sequences. As shown in the diagram, the form of this building is basically
quite simple and basic where it is almost symmetrical to each site of the plan as well as the
elevation. The structural plan is a sequence shaped, hypostyle mosque, meaning it is a flat roof
supported by columns (Lee Huey Ling; 2013).
Besides that, the facade of the National Mosque does not present a hierarchical
composition or order of vertical elements. The dimension of the horizontal elements at the
north, south, east and west facades are extended further and emphasis horizontally. Hence, it
creates a stable overall the exterior form. The horizontal element is visually lowered the overall
building height (Ismail; 2007).
Figure3.5 Horizontal and vertical elements (Ismail; 2007)
The exterior facade does not present any distinct fulcrum at all subordinate levels at the
roof, wall and base sections although there are elements that are drawn vertically , for example
Vertical and horizontal elements at the three levels of the exterior facade are not
overtly articulated. This forms unity and rhythm, as the background spaces between these
figure are not segregated but homogenous in character. The vertical and horizontal elements
are also asymmetrically arranged and present a varied interplay of void and solid features.
Figure 3.6: Solid and void
Architecture Style Analysis
Western and Modernist Influences
The National Mosque is one of the western-style mosques in Malaysia. Reason for this
western influence is during 19th
Century, western-designed mosques in Malaysia arose partially
from the desire of certain sultans and the court aristocracy to emulate imperial British culture.
As a result, mosques built during this period followed the Georgian architecture, which was
popular in England from the 18th to the 19th century. They were grand structures, symmetrical
in shape, and decorated with classical motifs such as capitalized columns, keyed arches and
pediments. Because they were ‘royal’ mosques, the temptation to achieve the ‘palatial' effect
of buildings in British courts was often greater than the need for functionality or the desire to
preserve local architectural traditions.
Besides that, another mosque style popular during the same period was Indian or Mogul
mosque, this style was prefer by the British administrators, as well as of the growing Indian
Muslim community in Malaysia during the late 19th and early 20th centuries.
Construction of the National Mosque, in Kuala Lumpur in 1965 was probably the most
significant event in the history of early Modernism in Malaysia architecture. It was the first
building having designs which depart from the strict symmetry of earlier mosques, resulting in a
‘free plan' akin to that advocated by Le Corbusier (1887-1965), the renowned French architect.
The building comprising of two levels, rests on piloted columns and the surrounding of the main
prayer hall is treated like wide-open verandas. Geometrically patterned grillwork forms the
walls. Adhering to the early Modernist principle of ‘form follows function', the internal space is
organized along the principal functions of a mosque. The first floor, where the main prayer hall
is situated, is devoted exclusively to the performance prayers and rituals. Next, the lower floor
houses the public facilities, such as the administration office for collection of zakat (tithes), a
clinic, and classrooms for religious instruction. The most radical departure from mosque
traditions, however, is the ‘umbrella’ roof. It is a creative construction solution (a 360 degree
folded plate structure) and an innovative combination of the two main traditions in Malaysian
mosque architecture: the dome inspired by imported Middle Eastern and Mogul architecture
and the roof inspired by the pyramidal forms of more indigenous origin. (Chen Voon Fee; 2005)
Due to the success of the design of National Mosque, and coinciding with an
international trend, structural expressionism (the attachment of symbolic meanings to the
structure of a building) became the predominant inspiration for early post-independence
mosques in Malaysia. The Negeri Sembilan State Mosque (1967) and the Penang State Mosque
(1980) are two of the best examples of the use of structure as the main design feature. (Chen
Voon Fee; 2005)
Local Adaptations of Modernism
The precast concrete panelling part of the building that envelope the 18-storey tower
block is the most expressive, and functionalist. Resembles the skin of a pineapple, it functions
as sun shading and aesthetic device, provides a sense of scale, texture, rhythm and form to the
façade. A ceremonial square is landscaped with ornamental pools and is used for formal
Displaying a mixture of Islamic and Modernist design principles in National Mosque
which was completed in 1965. The building is constructed in reinforced concrete and clad in
Italian marble, with many fine decorative details. It comprises a main prayer hall surrounded by
wide galleries or verandas with geometrically patterned filigree screen walls, ceremonial rooms,
administrative offices, meeting rooms, library, mausoleum, ornamental landscaped pools and
gardens, all within a 13-acre site.
The design of National Mosque's main prayer hall abandons the traditional domed roof
instead of a unique, reinforced concrete, folded-plate roof form in the shape of an umbrella.
The folded-plate roof of the similar roof structure of the mausoleum, were later renovated and
no feature blue aluminium panels. A 74.4-metre-tall minaret balances the horizontal massing of
the architectural composition.
Figure 4.1 The significant features of National
Mosque- the reinforced concrete roof, roof
cartilage, and the minaret.
Figure 4.2 The large folded opening of Heroes’
Figure 4.3 The water feature to separate the part
of the building
Figure 4.4 The landscape
Building Construction, Structure & Materials Analysis
The architectural styles of the modern mosques have changed gradually in parallel with
the development in structural advances, construction methods, and contemporary designs of
mosques. The materials that commonly uses in construction of modern mosque are concrete,
bricks, steel, stone and marble. Some common features that found in the modern mosques are
onion-shaped or top-shaped domes, tall minarets and high ceilings. The modern mosques
usually incorporate well-designed landscape elements including plants, water features,
patterned pavements, garden lightings and signages.
The architectural styles of the modern mosque can be differentiated into ‘expressionism’
and ‘structuralism’. The first category is the modern styles which emphasize the advancement
in building technology and engineering. National Mosque in Kuala Lumpur has a minaret of 245
feet in height and an umbrella-like roof, considers a striking examples for expressionism (Figure
5.1). The mosque was constructed of reinforced concrete faced with Italian marble. Its main
prayer hall can accommodate more than 3,000 people for prayer at one time whilst.
Furthermore, its surrounding galleries topped with numerous small domes can withstand
additional of 5,000 people. (Riyadh, SaudiArabia; 1999).
Figure 5.1 The stages of construction process of the National Mosque.
The structural system of the National Mosque, in general, is a combination of post and
beam concrete structure (Figure 5.2). Reinforced concrete is concrete in which steel is
embedded in such a manner that the two materials act together in resisting forces. Reinforced
concrete was used as it was able to withstand bad weather conditions due to it being stronger
than normal concrete. The reinforced concrete folded plate roof of the National Mosque built
in the Modernist style popular at that time (Figure 5.3). Construction methods also brings to
light the different levels of craftsmanship needed for each mosque, including new technical
knowledge brought in by Indian and Chinese builders as well as by the British educated
architects and engineers working with the Public Works Department (Megat Ariff Shah, Ezrin
Arbi & Nila Inangda; 2014).
Figure 5.2 Section of National Mosque (Ismail 2007) Figure 5.3 Reinforced Concrete
Next, there were nine sliding doors that were placed along the walls on the three
facades of the main hall. The doors were made out of big aluminium. The construction of the
roof along the veranda was built in waffle slabs (Figure 5.5). The roof structures are
cantilevered, which extends horizontally over the veranda and corridor walkways.
Figure 5.5 Waffle Slabs
Besides that, the minaret sits in a rectangular pool at the south side of the main prayer
hall and stands at 75 meters high. Its four sides are faced with concrete grills and rectangular-
shaped terrazzo slates. (Figure 5.6) The minaret presents a modest and functional vertical
tower whereas the mosque’s structural framework portrays the use of moderate size columns
and proportionate dimension of beams to support the roof structure. (Figure 5.7)
Figure 5.6 Rectangular shaped terrazzo slates and Figure 5.7 The minaret in the middle of the
repeated geometric shaped on the minaret water feature divide the columns beside
The whiteness of the concrete roof and the colour, texture and coolness of the marble
of the Heroes’ Mausoleum further enhance the quality of space and light in the interior of the
mausoleum. In Islam, the colour white is associated with funeral rites. The Malays consider
water to be a purifying element. Thus, their graves should ideally be exposed to dew and
rainwater (Chen Voon Fee; 2005). (Figure 5.8)
Figure 5.8 Water element surrounded the Heroes’ Mausoleum in National Mosque.
The north and east sides of the exterior façade are screened with concrete geometrical
grilled patterns whereas the south-east , south and south-west sides of the facades are plain
white concrete walls and open verandah, supported by rectangular-shaped columns faced
within glazed black ceramic tiles, bordered by wrought iron railings. (Figure 5.9) The mosque
shows no lavish and extravagant decorative treatment presented at its exterior facades. The
four facades are made of plain white concrete walls and geometrical concrete screens including
unpretentious finishes for the folded plate roof faced with layering blue and green tiling. The 70
small domes above the flat concrete slab at the verandah area are also sheathed in unglazed
blue tiles. (Figure 5.10)
Figure 5.9 Concrete screen with geometrical patterns; Figure 5.10 Small domes above the concrete slab roof
The interior façade of the mosque portrays minimal decorative elements for a mosque
of such significance. The decorative elements are limited to the main prayer hall. The north,
south and east walls, except for the mihrab wall, are faced with plain cream colored marble.
(Figure 5.11) The use of marble as its main material gives a clean, smooth and reflective surface.
These walls are also detailed with a band of Quranic verses written in gold that runs across
Figure 5.11 North, south and east walls faces with cream
Intertwined with the Quranic verses is a band of geometric patterns made from blue,
brown and green colored glaze ceramic tiles with light blue background. Across the base of
these walls are decorative bands which are made of glazed ceramic tiles, are arranged in a
geometrical pattern and are bordered by horizontal strips of dark blue triangular tiles (Figure
Figure 5.12 Band of geometrical pattern and Quranic verses runs across the prayer hall.
Entrances to the prayer hall are made of aluminium sliding glass windows with iron
frame (Figure 5.13). The entire qibla wall area is faced with geometrical patterns made from
glazed ceramic tile with white plastered muqarnas running across the top of the qibla wall. The
shape of the mihrab also differs which is semicircular in design (Figure 5.14).
Figure 5.13 Aluminium glass window at each sides. Figure 5.14 Design the qibla wall after renovation.
The main prayer hall is covered by a folded plate concrete roof with the centerpiece of
the dome made of an aluminium rosette, which reflects the design found at the dome of Sultan
Ahmad in Istanbul (Figure 5.15). There are 16 main concrete columns in the main prayer hall
with white detailed plastered muqarnas at the top and glazed ceramic tiles arranged in a
diamond pattern at the base (Figure 5.16). The walls surrounding the women’s prayer space, by
contrast, are of geometrical concrete grilles, and clerestory windows run across the top of these
grilles (Figure 5.17).
Figure 5.15 The centerpiece of dome made if aluminium. Figure 5.16 The base of 16 main columns in mosque.
Figure 5.17 The clerestory window and the timber
The verandah floor area is terrazzo (Figure 5.18), whilst the 154 concrete columns that
support the billowy concrete roof are faced with unglazed black mosaic tiles with strips of
anodized gold colored aluminium at the top and base (Figure 5.19).
Figure 5.18 Terrazzo flooring at verandah area. Figure 5.19 Columns at verandah area are faced with
unglazed black mosaic tiles with strips of anodized
gold colored aluminium at the top and base.
The pavilion area located at the east side of the prayer hall has 48 concrete columns
faced with unglazed white tile mosaic to support the parasol roof structure (Figure 5.20). The
decorative finishes and detailing in the National Mosque are unpretentious and easy to
maintain for a mosque of such importance (Holod & Khan (1997:72).
Figure 5.20 Columns at the pavilion area faced with the white mosaic tiles and strips of anodized gold coloured
aluminium at top and base.
The Similarities with the Modern Building in the West
Based on the construction of the National Mosque, we can see some similarities with
the construction of one of the most well-known residences in the west, designed by one of the
modern masters, Frank Lloyd Wright. The house mentioned is the Falling water in Bear Run,
Pennsylvania. One of the Similarities is that Fallingwater was built using reinforced concrete.
Reinforced concrete is commonly used in the modern building as it was the new technology at
that period. Wright had also designed the house with cantilevered floors (Figure 5.22). This
reflects back to the National Mosque’s cantilevered roof design (Figure 5.11). Lastly, the third
similarity was the use of waffle slabs. Wright used waffle slabs in the construction of
Fallingwater as it provided a lighter and stiffer slab which reduced the extent of foundations
(Figure 5.24). This slab was made of a thin topping slab and narrow ribs spanning in both
directions between column heads or band beams. The column heads or band beams are the
same depth as the ribs.
Figure 5.21 National Mosque cantilevered roof Figure 5.22 Fallingwater’s cantilevered design
Figure 5.23 National Mosque waffle slabs Figure 5.24 Fallingwater’s waffle slab design
Architectural elements/ components analysis
The National Mosque of Malaysia is uniquely designed by mix-matching contemporary
architecture with the Islamic traditional arts. It is enriched with Islamic ornamentations in terms
of calligraphy and geometrical patterns in both two and three-dimensional forms. Therefore,
National Mosque has many significant components that could be extracted as one of its unique
qualities in terms of architecture. The main components that are considered of utter
importance would be the big umbrella dome (roof), minaret, courtyard, mausoleum and mihrab.
Aside from those, also mentioned would be the fenestration, staircases, columns and other
details give the mosque an Islamic identity.
The most interesting feature of National Mosque is the folded plate dome, different
from any other mosque, which is represented by round dome. During the colonial period, many
mosques had the tendency to use the onion-shaped dome copied from colonized countries
Figure 6.1: roof of the main prayer hall
such as the Middle East and India but National Mosque was designed with intentions of using
the local and modern languages of architecture that conveyed the country’s message of moving
forward and forgetting the past. The majestic roof of National Mosque is one of the elements,
which is in geometric form. It’s a 18-pointed star concrete main roof and clad in blue and green
tiles was once just a bare pink concrete roof before the major renovations in 1987. The main
roof's design was inspired from the idea of an open umbrella, terminating the varieties of
domes introduced by British Colonization. The concept of having an umbrella-like dome is to
symbolize the protection under Allah, similar to umbrella provides shelter from rain water. This
roof is also said to symbolize Malaysia as a free country and was used to signify the unity of
people in Malaya that comprised of people from different races and religions that had formed
the Malaysian race. The folded plates of the concrete main roof is a creative solution to
achieving the larger spans required in the main gathering hall.
One of the most visible aspects of mosque architecture is the minaret, a tower adjacent
or attached to a mosque, from which the call to prayer is announced. Minarets take many
different forms. Not solely functional in nature, the minaret serves as a powerful visual
Figure 6.2: Minaret of National Mosque
reminder of the presence of Islam. The minaret of Nation Mosque is 73-metre-high, rises from
the middle of the reflecting pool and can be seen alongside the umbrella roof from the city’s
skyline. The design of the national mosque’s minaret is like a folded umbrella. The tall and
distinct minaret serves as a visual statement, a symbol of the greatness of Islam as the official
religion in Malaysia.
Mausoleum is a burial ground of Malaysian statesmen. The heroes’ mausoleum located
at the rear of the mosque is surrounded with a lovely circular self-reflecting pool connected to
the main building through a covered foot bridge. In comparison to the Grand Hall’s roof, though
the design for both roof are still rather similar. It’s a 7-pointed star concrete roofed structure.
Figure 6.3: Mausoleum of National Mosque and the ‘umbrella’ roof
In the National Mosque, geometric shape of screen walls can be found in every point of
the buildings. The geometric patterns exemplify the Islamic interest in repetition, balance,
symmetry and continuous generation of pattern. Lighting is manipulated by the screening wall
from the natural lightings, adding individuality and sensory experience of the space.
Figure 6.4: National Mosque, geometric wall screening surround the building
Figure 6.5: Courtyard with water features in National Mosque
The most fundamental necessity of congregational mosque architecture is that it be able
to hold the entire male population of a city or town (women are welcome to attend Friday
prayers, but not required to do so). To that end congregational mosques must have a large
prayer hall. In many mosques this is adjoined to an open courtyard, called a sahn. Within the
courtyard one often finds a fountain, its waters both a welcome respite in hot lands, and
important for the ablutions (ritual cleansing) done before prayer.
The National Mosque uses an extensive set of serambi or verandah space with light
courts and air wells to provide ample daylighting and passive cooling to the building.
Figure 6.6: Wide and open verandah in National Mosque
Pools and Fountain
Reflecting pools and fountains spread throughout the compound. The octagram or
eight-pointed star is a symbol of fullness and regeneration.
Qibla Wall Design
Figure 6.7: 8-pointed star fountain, National Mosque
Figure 6.8: Qibla wall, National Mosque
Another essential element of a mosque’s architecture is a mihrab—a niche in the wall that
indicates the direction of Mecca, towards which all Muslims pray. Mecca is the city in which the
Prophet Muhammad was born, and the home of the most important Islamic site, the Kaabah.
The direction of Mecca is called the qibla, and so the wall in which the mihrab is set is called
the qibla wall. No matter where a mosque is, its mihrab indicates the direction of Mecca (or as
near that direction as science and geography were able to place it). It is easy to locate the qibla
wall upon entering the prayer hall in National Mosque.
Figure 6.9: Geometrical ornaments, National Mosque
Staircases in National Mosque are built wide and rather massive looking. This could be
to represent how the mosque is a public space where all the Muslims are encouraged and
welcomed. These staircases are located at all the main entrances.
Figure 6.10: Wide staircase, located at different entrances of National
Figure 6.11: Detailed and decorated column in main prayer hall, National Mosque
The columns present in the mosque are also detailed with beautiful Islamic patterns.
Most mosques utilize the Islamic patterns all over the building as simple yet intricately detailed
decorative elements. The column in the photo above is found in the main prayer hall.
The ceiling of the open areas such as the verandahs are very simple and bare compared
to the one in the prayer hall with the shape of umbrella dome designed but the height and
verticality of the tall columns holding it gives a strong sense of meaning to the person while
standing below. In Islam, it would signify how small human beings are in comparison to the
greatness of Allah the almighty.
Figure 6.12: Ceiling with slit openings in National Mosque
All in all, the mosque is a tangible symbol of the spirit of the nation, and for its region
and remains a significant architectural work. Besides that this is a building built in a modern
state that displayed in the white surfaces, the fenestration and ‘high-tech’ look. In terms of
function and design, the mosque works well as it retains a direct relationship to the
environment. The use of water and landscaping, and the modulation of light, shade and
reflections highlight its masses then it leads the mosque a more human aspects. Materials and
finishes are unpretentious, and surfaces and detailing are simple and easy to maintain. The
architects carried out the idea of features with highly modern approach because the typical
Malay mosques were smaller and built of softer materials, as were the larger Anglo-Indian
pastiches of the colonial era. Local architectural character was provided by merging two
symbolic meanings onto the folded concrete from imported materials and by means of
contemporary technology. Thus, the National Mosque is a masterpiece of modern architecture
without losing its Islamic architecture values. National Mosque is the icon of inspiration of
national and multi-racial society that reflects universal values of humanity.
Figure 7.1 Axonometric of National Mosque (Ismail; 2007)
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