The mosque is named after Sheikh Zayed Bin Sultan Al Nayhan, the late ruler and founder of the United Arab Emirates, and is a building of extraordinary dimensions: it is the third largest mosque worldwide, and features the largest dome of a mosque in the world. Behind the design are architects Halcrow, Spatium and Speirs and Major Associates, UK (Lighting Architects).
In keeping with other religious buildings, the mosque attaches special symbolic importance to light. Within the interior, all light appears woven into the fabric of the building with equipment hidden from view. Most striking of all is the exterior lighting which ebbs and flows according to the lunar-based Islamic calendar. Director Jonathan Speirs explains: “In the same way as the moon has an impact on the tides, we wanted the moon to have an impact on the building. Our idea was to have a building that, by full moon, is lit pristinely with white light, but with a textural quality evocative of clouds slowly drifting by. As the moon wanes over its 28 day cycle, the lighting grows gradually bluer to signify darkness. On the fourteenth evening the mosque is lit in deepest blue.”
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