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Albania constructing massive mosque-museum-garden complex to foster religious harmony

Source : Islam Today
Tirana | 06 May 2011

Albania is constructing a new 27,000 square-metre complex consisting of a mosque, an Islamic centre, and a museum of religious harmony.

Located in Scanderbeg Square, at the centre of Albania’s capital Tirana, the complex is part of a series of urban transformations in the city. Two churches were recently completed in the area a this complex will ensure that Albania’s three major religions – Orthodox Christianity, Catholicism, and Islam – are all represented in the heart of the city. The complex will not only serve the Muslim community of the city and surrounding areas, but will educate the public about Islamic values and serve as a beacon for religious tolerance.

The forms of the complex address the city grid and orientation towards Mecca. The mosque provides room for a thousand people to perform their daily prayers and allows natural light in wherever possible. A developer's illustration of the interior design of the cultural center is pictured to the right.

An international competition for the cultural complex was won by a team consisting of Bjarke Ingels Group, Martha Schwartz Landscape, Buro Happold, Speirs & Major, Lutzenberger & Lutzenberger, and Global Cultural Asset Management.

Commenting on the selection of the successful design, the Mayor of Tirana, Edi Rama explained: "The winning proposal was chosen for its ability to create an inviting public space flexible enough to accommodate daily users and large religious events, while harmonically connecting with the Scanderbeg square, the city of Tirana and its citizens across different religions."

"Additionally the project shines through its beautiful garden surrounding the new Mosque and Centre of Islamic Culture which symbolically features the rich vegetation described in Islamic literature."

The mayor is referring to part of the plan called "The Koran Gardens" which is to contain all of the plants mentioned in the Koran in the amounts and number of times they appear in the holy scripture.