From the program arises a clear dichotomy between the symbolic-religious role assigned to the Mosque and the rest of more conventional activities. We resolve this contrast with the double choice of orientations; towards Mecca for the Mosque and that of the entry street, only formal suggestion of a meaningless urban grid, for the rest of activities of the centre. We do however maintain the configuration of the plot and its present topography, except for the access. The existing slope from Avenida de la Paz will outline the united visual image we intend for the Centre.
Both the formal and functional construction of the Centre are articulated around two parts: the Mosque, compositive centre placed on the highest level, and the U shaped building which embraces it, creating a great squared courtyard on the first floor (Mosque level), with a double height gallery, thus creating the spiritual character of the centre, analogous to the Grand Mosque that surrounds the Kaaba in the city of Mecca.
The Mosque adopts the classical typology: hypostyle Prayer Hall, Courtyard and Minaret. The Prayer Hall, squared and columnated, is built as a great Qubba covered by a cedar wood roof forming a pyramid that crowns the great stone cubic volume. The interior finds its spatial value in the crosses and enclosures in carved wood latticework between the diverse structural elements, forming a wooden pyramid supported by 16 circular piers, analogous to Bib Mardum Mosque in Toledo. The stone wall is externally crowned with a frieze engraved with a great Kufic inscription showing the Islamic profession of faith. The Mosque’s Courtyard creates a squared precinct, similar to that of the Prayer Hall, enclosed by a stone wall that consecrates part of the great porticoed courtyard for religious use. Here water is used symbolically both isolating, with a pond, the Prayer Hall from the rest of the courtyard, also seeming to draw on the pavement the direction to Mecca and signifying the entries on the walls of the Mosque’s Courtyard from the galleries, reinforcing this effect with rows of cypresses. The Mosque is accessed from the inside by two sets of stairs for men and women which through their respective ablution areas connect with the corresponding level by the double height gallery. On the outside the Minaret connects the street level with the courtyard. This important entry serves equally to the educational area, library and offices that are able to function autonomously form the rest.
Under the platform of the Great Courtyard there are four levels: two underground, one with the car park and car access and another one with storage facilities and other services. Above this two levels there are two more storeys hosting the public activities of the Centre. The main level, the ground floor, is connected with a great hall under the volume of the Qubba, and a very precise organisation with the Auditorium, Exhibition Room and Museum, plus further connections to other storeys.
Over the platform reinforced with buttresses is located the U shaped building that closes the great squared courtyard with the fragile double gallery, framing the Mosque, that serves both to formally unify the building and ensure an exterior access and autonomous functioning of the different activities that take place around the courtyard.
All the building’s life has thus been voluntarily poured into the courtyard presided by the great Qubba of the Mosque and its precinct; the atmosphere becomes evoking and symbolic, separated from urban chaos and noise, similarly to Islamic madrasas. The closed and introverted aspect given to the exterior image of the building serves to this purpose. Visual contact with the outside takes place through the belvedere over Madrid and opened to the West.
One should also notice the porticoed promenade between the buttresses following the natural slope starting on the lateral street, traversing the landscaped garden with native species from Madrid: holm oak trees, strawberry trees or madroños… planted following a strict grid along the natural slopes to the small access square.
The dwellings, due to their specific characteristics, are physically separated from the compound but also formally related to the U shaped building. The dramatic cut between these pieces serves as entry from the lateral street towards the main access under the Qubba. The role of the Minaret is therefore valued through a perspective that privileges a monumental view.
The main access area or paved platform is shaped in a complex way that is added to the composition: the Minaret, the porch under the dwellings, the great stone cubic volume and pyramidal roof of the Mosque and the poles for the Islamic Countries as visual filter and limit. The vision from the car access of Avenida de la Paz seeks a strong and unitary image similar to that of Iberian Alcázar, so beautifully placed on the landscape, and also similar to the Royal Palace of Madrid – an old Alcázar – that has maintained all its power and special relationship between architecture and locus.
According with these ideas the materials are: solid brick for the whole building but the Mosque (Qubba, courtyard and minaret) which will be made of stone meticulously bonded, following a combination of materials usual in the best examples of architecture in Madrid. The interiors will be covered with white stuccos and artisanal tiling. Cedar wood will be employed for the entire construction of the pyramidal structure that cover the Prayer Hall.