Cambridge Central Mosque gets people’s vote for prestigious architecture award

Cambridge Central Mosque has won the RIBA Stirling Prize 2021 People’s Vote but lost out on the official award that was decided by a panel of judges.

The masjid was pipped to the main prize by Kingston University London’s Town House. But it beat the five other contenders in the People’s Vote — a public poll run by RIBA (The Royal Institute of British Architects). It is the first time a mosque has won the award.

Client of the Year

The Cambridge Mosque Trust was also named the “Client of the Year” by RIBA. The award recognises clients that commission and champion outstanding architecture.

In 2009, Cambridge Mosque Trust commissioned Marks Barfield Architects to create Cambridge Central Mosque.

Consisting of an Islamic garden and prayer hall, with capacity for over 1000 worshippers, it was inspired by Islamic and English architectural traditions.  

The main prayer hall has wooden columns, or ‘trees’, constructed using sustainably sourced timber, which supports the gothic-style ceiling.

Chair of the RIBA Client of the Year jury Jo Bacon said: “Cambridge Mosque Trust, spearheaded by Dr Timothy Winter, Shaykh Zayed Lecturer in Islamic Studies, and Director of Studies at Wolfson College, demonstrated personal commitment and tenacity to deliver a highly sustainable work of contemporary architecture, which is culturally embedded in the history of those who use the building but also appropriate and generous to the civic life of the city. Cambridge Mosque Trust is a worthy winner of RIBA Client of the Year 2021.”

Eco-friendly masjid

The building – the first eco-friendly masjid in Europe – was favourite to win the main prize, having won multiple awards at the RIBA East Awards.

When nominated for the final, the judges praised the Cambridge Central Mosque project saying, it was “a demonstration of how architecture can embody religious and cultural philosophy and traditions while utilising sustainable and contemporary materials.”

“It has created a new, 21st century, non-denominational British mosque that is both specific to its place and time and which resonates with wider Islamic and religious buildings. To have achieved this in Cambridge, with its world famous tradition of structural expression in religious architecture, yet without contrivance is a remarkable achievement.”

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