Sancaklar Mosque: Displacing the Familiar

Gür B. F.

INTERNATIONAL JOURNAL OF ISLAMIC ARCHITECTURE, vol.6, no.1, pp.165-193, 2017 (AHCI) identifier identifier identifier

  • Publication Type: Article / Article
  • Volume: 6 Issue: 1
  • Publication Date: 2017
  • Doi Number: 10.1386/ijia.6.1.165_1
  • Journal Indexes: Arts and Humanities Citation Index (AHCI), Scopus
  • Page Numbers: pp.165-193
  • Keywords: prayer space, contemporary mosque architecture, Sancaklar Mosque, Emre Arolat Architecture (EAA), displacement, defamiliarization, TURKEY
  • TED University Affiliated: Yes


Studying contemporary mosque architecture necessitates dealing concurrently with both the past and the present. Burdens of the past cause a crisis at a point when architects attempt to design prayer spaces that avoid historicist references while attending to the religion's liturgical requirements. This crisis indicates the moment at which architects are forced to become critical of what is preceding, and thus creates a challenging situation in the evolution of mosque architecture. This article takes the Sancaklar Mosque, designed by Emre Arolat Architecture (EAA), as its main object of research in order to assess this challenge. The Sancaklar Mosque presents a significant attempt to free mosque design from the prevailing formal practices observed in the majority of current mosques, by rejecting any clear reference to the historical mosque type and the use of any conventional mosque elements. However, I argue that while Sancaklar Mosque displays a clear break with the past, it is not ahistorical. The mosque suggests both a suspension of discussions on mosque architecture reduced to formal significations and historical prototypes, but also a different way of dealing with the past, which is, in this article, conceptualized as 'defamiliarization'. The Sancaklar Mosque provides a significant example for a project in which familiar codified formal elements are displaced as a particular response to the challenge that architects face when designing religious buildings.