MASDAR MOSQUE – The studio was invited to design a community mosque in the new city of Masdar, Abu Dhabi. The city’s public ground plane was planned to be raised on columns two storeys up in the air, as if on a table, with an underground service zone be-neath containing the transport system and all utilities. While its buildings were plotted along a strict rectilinear grid to capture the cooling breezes of the desert and the sea, the mosque had to be oriented towards Mecca, setting it at almost 45 degrees to the rest of the city’s grid. The studio felt that this gave it permission to be different from the other buildings sitting on top of this table. Muslims kneel and place their heads on the earth to pray, but the extraordinary thing in Masdar is that worshippers will be elevated above the ground, placing their heads on a tabletop seven metres above the desert. As a mosque should be a particularly precious place, the studio felt that there was an opportunity to step off this futuristic slab of sustainable living and reconnect with the earth. The studio’s idea was to create an opening in the surface of the tabletop and lift the ground beneath so that worshippers could step back onto the desert to pray. The flat plane of paving that supports the buildings of Masdar would be raised up to enclose the mosque, creating a structure as elemental as possible. Unlike the other buildings in the city, the mosque and the public space around it would not sit on top of the raised table but be constructed from it.


Foster + Partners


Abu Dhabi, UAE



Project Leader

Mark Marshall

Studio team

Neil Hubbard, Stuart Wood


Foster + Partners, WSP Group