rux: the vanishing mosque
rux: the vanishing mosque rux: the vanishing mosque
jul 16, 2010

rux: the vanishing mosque

‘the vanishing mosque’ by rux design all images courtesy of rux design and via traffic




new york-based design studio rux has won the ‘design as reform’ competition hosted by traffic, a dubai-based art and design collective. the architecture category of the multi-disciplinary competition called for a reinterpretation of the traditionalmosque with a variety of requirements such as an ablution area, a women’s prayer room, and communal spaces. rux’s design proposal, ‘the vanishing mosque’, plays with the idea of liberating the mosque from a building form and incorporating it directly into the fabric of the city, making it more visible, connected, and integral to the spiritual and cultural workings of a community.

‘in the evening, lights from residences and offices ni the surrounding buildings cast chance shadows across iconic architecture.’




the design features a 5000 m2 urban plaza which skews the city grid to forge a forced perspective view in the direction of mecca. the combined effect of the saw-tooth facades of the surrounding buildings as well as the angle of the structure makes it seem as if the plaza is vanishing into the horizon. the space created under the peeled up prayer plinth provides an ablution, an area for ritual washing.

‘the prayer plinth points in the direction of mecca, like a giant compass needle.’

‘white marble facades and deep shaded arcades create dynamic and contrasting lighting conditions. passersby glimpse the prayer scene while going about their day-to-day activities.’

model the ablution (ritual washing area) beneath the raised prayer plinth

‘an aerial view of the plaza reveals that the forced perspective effect is actually created by a series of angled and distorted building facades.’

pointing in the direction of mecca

plan 5000 m2 public plaza with surrounding mixed use buildings

section ‘the ground lifts up to reveal a cool shaded pool of water beneath the city floor. this area is used for rest, relaxation and ritual cleansing.’

  • I really like it. I really mean it. Especially when it becomes a part of the city plan.

    Onur says:
  • it’s showing that the designer didn’t know anything about muslems and their praying!!!!!
    This isn’t they want!!!!!

    Yanon says:
  • i wonder how they want to pray if its extremely hot weather or raining or sand storm?

    vibenade says:
  • This is a strong idea and absolutely beautiful to “feel” the mosque. I am very impacted by this.

    Dirk van der Kraan says:
  • The aim of this competition was to rethink the traditional mosque. This concept is very controversial and a well deserved winner!

    daniel says:
  • I’m questionning this actually works. I’ve never seen a pool for ablutions, what about the hygienic aspect? Outdoor praying at 45 degrees and a flexible gender barrier? I’m not sure this would get accepted.

    Peter says:
  • a mosque has certain elements that go with the rituals that take place in a mosque. the fact that its opened to the outside , the concept it self is not applicable in the gulf area. weather, privacy, solitude and the fact that the people who dont ENTER the mosque shall not be part of any ritual taking place. nice try but really lacks reality, research and study.

    sara says:
  • I don’t know Sara. There are plenty of mosques where you can have a “traditional” experience. This one is trying to offer something new. And it is incredibly beautiful and inspiring in addition!!! The whole point of the competition was to reinvent the mosque, and RUX was bold enough to give us something that is sure to inspire great debate.

    Rement says:
  • Genius!

    kg says:
  • really a catchy perspective…as a strong image it works, but lets accept it, such a concept cannot work under the gulf sun….so simple…it is written that rux is from ny. i doubt if it works even under ny sun…

    emre says:
  • Prayers area should be on flat land. It can’t be on a slope or on stairs. It’s like hanging cross upside down in a church!

    Soroosh says:
  • well is impossible weather in dubai! so doesn’t work at all! go there and see.

    francesco says:
  • i don’t think is going to be built in that enviroment.

    marcos says:
  • Actually I encourage new concepts and ideas of mosques, that introduces new forms and elements may be like the slope…. also about the hot weather, a light structure like a tent will solve the weather problems…
    But : the idea of opening the mosque to the shopping arcades is not quite right. because it is considered some kind of distraction as the activities and shopping facades will draw the prayers’ attention which is against praying values and rules.

    other than that it is new and good concept
    [email protected]

    Waleed Tarek says:
  • I appreciate the idea and like it very much…there might be a lot of extremist who would go against the concept of this mosque, but i think it will work wihtout hampering the values and the philosophy of Islam

    dfshuvra says:
  • the idea about the space being formed with vanishing point seems good, but practically will not hold good for any praying center just not mosque, as the inclination may lead to problems to people attending there…

    asad says:
  • The flexible barrier is actually right and this is how they used to pray back during our Prophet’s days; it’s wrong to separate the men and the women area with a wall. The heat is one problem, I dont know what kind of marble they’re going to use or if there’s a cooling system that will be applied. Distraction, as some of your mentioned, is one thing. Perhaps a landscape that will apart the building from the prayer area will work. But over all, it isn’t bad. Its new. I’d rather a Muslim design a Masjed (mosque) who knows what praying is all about because it’s a sensitive religious matter but again it’s not bad.

    Maryam says:
  • it think that the ablution space is not placed correctly, one have to go a long way down then came back under the scorching sun,

    ” theres no shade”

    come on guys be practical,
    the other this that i totally disagree with is that the designers say
    “the vanishing mosque’, plays with the idea of liberating the mosque from a building form
    and incorporating it directly into the fabric of the city, making it more visible, connected,
    and integral to the spiritual and cultural workings of a community. ”

    its a sweeping statement here, if they really wanna do something like that then they should study about the Muslim cities of herat, Samarkand, Bukhara, Isfahan and many more where mosque actually act as the city center, the whole city is developed around it giving the mosque the utmost importance, the way they have done this, its a very informal mosque, and theres nothing new except the steps , and one can find so many informal kinda mosques here in Karachi, so nothing new n nothing exciting.
    by the way i really doubt the perspective views, they seems quite unrealistic to me, because of the scale of the sight, and the perspective its not coordinating, and from where the perspective is taken i cant barely see the imam and could hardly connect with him while hes giving the sermon

    owais hasan says:
  • I checked out the rux design website because i was hoping to find drawings of a shading system for this mosque. i didn’t find a drawing, but they do mention that “retractable cloth awnings filter out harsh afternoon sun on the prayer floor”. that will definitely help with the heat problem. I’m sure as they develop the design we will get to see how this shading system works.

    Kent says:
  • Off the topic but I just wanted to say it’s very refreshing to read people debating something concerning the Muslim religion in a constructive manner.

    Over-all from a Muslim’s point of view, this concept is not at all practical and yes it lacks a lot of research and study.
    A person who goes to ANY place of worship will tell you that peace and quiet are amongst the most important things. To add to that, this idea being an open space also loses on the importance of cleanliness and hygiene of the ablution water.

    That being said, from an aesthetic-al and design point of view, I really appreciate the thought and concept that went into this. I like the fact that an idea of integrating a/any ‘building’ within the city was considered and how the space was so open it had a serene energy to it.

    To put the atmosphere/temperature argument to rest, I have lived (for 20 years) and still live in Dubai and let me tell you the weather here in the summer is unbearable. Imagine every time you open the door of your home it’s like opening an oven door, no exaggeration. Temperatures reach 50 degrees and having a tent cover is really not something smart. In addition we have sand storms, rain, and thunderstorms.

    This is kind of like a Dubai based architecture firm, with no proper knowledge or research, has entered a competition for building a new baseball stadium in NY. Nobody plays baseball here, there are no fields to begin with so imagine what the outcome would be. But thanks for the efforts.

    Maya says:
  • It is a fresh break through concept, and very beautiful, although 3rd render from top reminds me of a spaceship, and the jargon of climate and hygiene will be another mile to go to realize such a project in the region, yet if you ask me I’ll vote for this one.

    gehad says:
  • this designer dont know anything about islam.

    slope looking good but not for worship.

    in front people much higher than rear , in islam everybody must be equal !

    prayers needs privacy (womens not be in sight)

    this compass needle showin sky, muslim dont adore sky or stars

    and more and more good luck

    fatih says:
  • It is very interesting that nobody nor the architects nor the people giving comments here have studied a little about the rules of group worshiping and there spaces in Islam. I am sure the architect who has given “the raised prayer plinth” design had never attended a muslim group praying himself to know that according to Islamic mosque building rules the place of the Imam and mihrab should be the lowest part of the praying courtyard(not the highest!!!), the prays of the people who attend a grouply praying on this rising arrow-like platform is not accepted according to the Islamic Shariat. The building of this un-studied design should be stopped immediately.

    Mohammed Vaez says:
  • I have worked on a number of medium sized mosques for the Muslim community in London. I agree with the comments that seeming absence of understanding for some of the key aspects of the religious brief for a project like this is rather disappointing.

    However this and the mantle mosque are exploratory projects that don’t purport to be finished solutions. I think both of them have some strong qualities. I have found working with this client group to be rewarding and often a more openminded process than on more highly legislated secular buildings.

    I also find the black and white statements about what is wrong or right misrepresent the real issue of designing for the Muslim community. My experience is that different groups often have very different interpretations of the religious brief.

    [url=] Markland Klaschka Architects and Designers [/url]

    Robert Klaschka says:

have something to add? share your thoughts in our comments section below.
all comments are reviewed for the purposes of moderation before publishing.

comments policy
designboom's comment policy guidelines
generally speaking, if we publish something, it's because we're genuinely interested in the subject. we hope you'll share this interest and if you know even more about it, please share! our goal in the discussion threads is to have good conversation and we prefer constructive opinions. we and our readers have fun with entertaining ones. designboom welcomes alerts about typos, incorrect names, and the like.
the correction is at the discretion of the post editor and may not happen immediately.

what if you disagree with what we or another commenter has to say?
let's hear it! but please understand that offensive, inappropriate, or just plain annoying comments may be deleted or shortened.

- please do not make racist, sexist, anti-semitic, homophobic or otherwise offensive comments.
- please don't personally insult the writers or your fellow commenters.
- please avoid using offensive words, replacing a few letters with asterisks is not a valid workaround.
- please don't include your website or e-mail address in your comments for the purpose of self-promotion.
- please respect jury verdicts and do not discuss offensively on the competition results
(there is only one fist prize, and designboom usually asks renown professionals to help us to promote talent.
in addition to the awarded designs, we do feel that almost all deserve our attention, that is why we publish
the best 100-200 entries too.)

a link is allowed in comments as long as they add value in the form of information, images, humor, etc. (links to the front page of your personal blog or website are not okay). unwelcome links (to commercial products or services of others, offensive material etc. ) will be redacted. and, ... yes, spam gets banned. no, we do not post fake comments.


a diverse digital database that acts as a valuable guide in gaining insight and information about a product directly from the manufacturer, and serves as a rich reference point in developing a project or scheme.

architecture news

keep up with our daily and weekly stories
490,140 subscribers
- see sample
- see sample