Design Criteria for Mosques and Islamic Centers Art, Architecture, and Worship by Akel Kahera, Latif Abdulmalik, and Craig Anz (Burlington, MA: Architectural Press, 2009. 112 pages.)

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Tammy Gaber



In an area where only a handful of books exist, Design Criteria for Mosques
is a welcome addition. A follow up of sorts to Kahera’s Deconstructing the
American Mosque (2002), it was hoped that this text would present new material and a fresh analysis in addition to serving as a guide for design. The five-chapter book covers mosques built in North America and Europe from
the early 1920s onwards and incorporates many images and architectural
drawings, including many from the author’s design office. Several overall
issues related to inconsistency, however, undermine its potential. The greatest
one is that of voice, a common enough problem when a book is written
by multiple authors – the text fluctuates between didactic and spare guide lists
for planning and building a mosque to a philosophical discourse on the meaning
of each issue related to designing contemporary mosques. The images
and drawings could have mediated between the two polarized voices. The use
of images, if explained in the text or even in subtitles, could have faciliated
the discourse and related the ideas to the guideline lists.
Yet this is not the case, for the images and drawings (of inconsistent
quality and often with illegible dimensions) are included in the text’s body
but seldom referenced in the text. The captions are also non-explanatory,
thereby leaving the reader to guess at their relevance to the discourse and
the lists ...

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