Part of the Qatar Foundation, the Qatar Faculty of Islamic Studies is dedicated to research and debate on Islam. The faculty offers master’s degrees and diplomas in Islamic studies, with specialisations in contemporary faith, public policy and Islamic finance. Future programmes will cover religion and contemporary thought, contemporary Muslim societies, and Islamic urban planning and architecture.

The project was envisaged as a reinterpretation of the traditional school and mosque as a source of knowledge and not just a place of worship. The design brief combined the functions of the faculty with the Education City mosque. The design was awarded to Ali Mangera and Ada Yvars Bravo of the UK’s MYAA (Mangera Yvars Architects).

It is a futuristic piece of architecture, inspired by the long-valued architecture of the Muslim world

Working on the premise that ‘knowledge equals light’, the architects equated the faculty with ‘knowledge’ and the mosque with ‘light’. MYAA focused on relations between the interior and exterior, and on Islamic architectural principles seen in traditional mosques. There are two main courtyards, and the elevated mosque provides ample shade. Faculty offices and departments are arrayed in a spiral, ending with the classrooms and library. The minarets rise to heights of 60 to 80 meters, with Quranic verses emphasising the importance of learning and contemplation. The direction of Mecca is denoted in the calligraphy on the minarets and the direction in which they point, as well as in the prayer lines in the mosque courtyard, in the outdoor space beneath the mosque and throughout the building landscape.

Symbolic references

The mosque is designed as one elevated structure, supported by five main columns, signifying the five pillars of Islam. It can hold 1,500 people inside and 500 more in the external courtyard. It is a futuristic piece of architecture, inspired by the long-valued architecture of the Muslim world, with numerous symbolic and poetic references to Islam and its civilisation.

The Qatar Faculty of Islamic Studies also includes a cafe, lounges, classrooms and seminar rooms, as well as an exhibition space. The ablution areas are located around a cascade inspired by the concept of the four rivers of Paradise. This water feature marks the beginning of the four streams that run through the building and continue into its landscape. All interior spaces are designed to have visual or physical access to gardens. Some garden areas are planted with the fig and olive trees that are mentioned in the Quran. For the facades and interiors, the architects employed geometric patterns, developed as an interpretation of traditional Islamic designs.