Wednesday, November 24, 2010

Redesigning Mecca

November 18, 2010 | Maryam Eskandari

Featured in New York's Elan Magazine

This last week, roughly between two to four million Muslims were honorary guests at the “House of the Divine” to fulfill a spiritual cleansing. Millions of people come each year to visit this architectural wonder, built by the father of the three monotheistic faiths of Judaism, Christianity, and Islam. They get to witness the foundation that Abraham laid, in order to build his Ummah or the society of the “Abrahamic Faiths.” This year Muslims visited the Ka’aba, before it goes under heavy renovation by two of Britain’s “starchitects”: Norman Foster and Zaha Hadid.

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Sunday, November 07, 2010

Why Park51 is much more than the 'mosque at Ground Zero'

The Observer, Rowan Moore

It's easier to say what the "mosque at Ground Zero" is not, than what it is. It's not a mosque, and it's not at Ground Zero – only nearby. It's not a "clubhouse for terrorists", as some objectors have called it, nor a work of "triumphalist stealth jihad". It does not "loom" over the "hallowed ground" of the 9/11 attacks, which cannot be seen from its site.

As to what it is, the explanation is not at first very enlightening. Park51, to use the project's proper name, is "a friendly and accessible platform" that "enriches lower Manhattan in body and spirit, with ecologically conscious design and operation". However, its architect, Michel Abboud, makes things clearer: it is a Muslim version of the YMCA, or the many Jewish community centres in New York. That is, it will have a swimming pool, basketball court, childcare and exhibition facilities, a library, auditorium, restaurant and catering school. As with the Christian and Jewish versions, you won't have to be a believer to use these facilities.

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The Green Mosque

November 2, 2o10 | Maryam Eskandari

Featured in New York's Elan Magazine

Last week, the Chicago based nonprofit organization, Faith in Place, announced its winner for “Building: Problem or Solution?” competition. 26 design firms, representing 11 states, and six countries participated. Of which, the winner for this year was a team of four young Muslims, from Pasadena, California whose winning entry was the Sustainable Green Mosque. The Sustainable Green Mosque played on the notion of weaving the sustainability concept, along with the traditional mosque elements, into a modern urban context.

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Zaha Hadid’s Chanel Pavilion

October 19, 2010| Maryam Eskandari

Featured in New York's Elan Magazine

Six decades ago the Queen of Fashion, Coco Chanel, who ruled the couture world said “Fashion is architecture: it is a matter of proportions”, she clearly had a vision in mind. Fast forward thirty years later, where Chanel’s head designer Karl Lagerfeld took those words and made them into reality. Lagerfeld commissioned Iraqi born architect Zaha Hadid for “Chanel Contemporary Art Container” Pavilion. The mobile art space would be home to 20 artists that would display their artwork. It started in Hong Kong, and finished in New York’s Central Park.

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Sand Dunes of China

Oct 10, 2010| Maryam Eskandari

featured in New York's Elan Magazine

This year, Aladdin and his 1001 night’s stories somehow ended up looking for the genie’s lamp in the heart of one of the most architecturally congested cities of the world, Shanghai. Unless, you where busy trying to get your three wishes, you know that this summer was one of the most hyper active summers, where the whole world got together. Despite the fact that Hollywood tried to do us a favor and take us to Iran, with the Prince of Persia, to Abu Dhabi with Sex and the City or the whole world watching South Africa for the World Cup; China just decided to bring the whole world to its back yard with the World Expo. Of which, United Arab Emirates (UAE) audaciously gave a big pile of sand to be displayed.

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