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A Sustainable Mosque Planned for German City

A Sustainable Mosque Planned for German City

A small Muslim community in Norderstedt, a town near Hamburg in Germany, hopes to build what would be one of the first eco-friendly mosques. Hamburg architect Selcuk Ünyilmaz has designed a 2.5 million euro (about $3.6 million) mosque that will incorporate wind turbines in its minaret, the place from which the muezzin calls the faithful to prayer.

The 200-member congregation is part of the Turkish-Islamic Union for Religious Affairs and just received approval for the project, which will comprise about 1,300 square meters and include not only the mosque, but also shops, travel agents, a hairdresser, a café and offices. Ugur Sütcü, the chairman of the congregation, describes the project as a sort of ecumenical community center in Guardian:

We want to create a meeting place for people from all religions and nationalities…There will be advisory services on offer, as well as social, cultural and sporting activities.”

Architect Ünyilmaz, who has “long incorporated energy efficiency into his work,” sees the project as giving “sacral architecture an ecological focus” and combining “the modern with the traditional” by giving the minarets a “contemporary function” — indeed, one analogous to windmills of yore. 

While there don’t yet seem to be any mosques with such a “green” design, the Islamic missionary group Tablighi Jamaat is also planning to build a mosque with wind turbines in its minarets in time for the 2012 London Olympics. That mosque is planned to hold up to 40,000 worshippers and, “defying the canonical architecture of other British mosques, which have plastic minarets and fake domes imitating the traditional mosques in the Middle East,” this giant mosque is to have a “futuristic design” with, besides the wind turbine minarets, “an enormous translucent latticed roof to replace the dome,” according to EcoFriend.

Sütcü says that the Norderstedt congregation has not yet raised the money to build the project, but he is confident that they can. As the Guardian notes,

Ünyilmaz’s scheme has come at a fortuitous time. Germany has approved a 2022 exit from nuclear energy and there is pressure to make up the shortfall by boosting the renewable energy sector.

The coastal town is perfectly situated for wind energy production, and the minarets will help cover the building’s overheads, providing about a third of its energy. Ünyilmaz said that was one of the reasons he opted for turbines instead of solar panels, which would not produce electricity at night. “We are in the north and I don’t think there’s a day here that isn’t windy,” he said.

On Monday, Italians overturned laws passed by Prime Minister Silvio Berlusconi’s government that would have revived the country’s nuclear energy program, notes the New York Times: It’s definitely time for more eco-friendly architecture.

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The photo above (by sethschoen) is of a mosque of a more traditional sort than the one Norderstedt's Turkish-Islamic Union for Religious Affairs

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4:13PM PST on Mar 2, 2012

Everyone should go eco-friendly

1:49PM PDT on Jun 20, 2011

Hey Delores, I feel compeled to inform you and any others with a common misconception. The people building the mosque are German Muslims!! There are people of the Muslim faith in countries all over the world including the US. Just like their are people of Christian and Jewish faith around the world.

1:43PM PDT on Jun 20, 2011

Hey Charlene, There is outrage over vilolent crimes/hate crimes committed by any extremist. I do agree however, that people should be very careful of blaming huge groups for the actions of a small percentage. We must all be careful not to steriotype others.

1:39PM PDT on Jun 20, 2011

Sounds great, I hope others will follow their lead. It would be fantastic if we became less dependant on nuclear energy as well as on oil. It is also great to hear that they are welcoming people of other faiths as well.

9:43PM PDT on Jun 17, 2011

If this project works, as expected, it will be an inspiration to everyone, not only to those involved.

While, many hysterical Americans worry their butts off about Muslim extremists, white supremacist groups have killed more people and committed more crimes, over the years.

Where is the outrage over their crimes of murder and torture?

3:12PM PDT on Jun 16, 2011

Weird but cool. As my Muslim friend would say, "Salaam aliekum".

2:29PM PDT on Jun 16, 2011

Good idea. Any small step that helps the environment is a good one.

Russell R. , not all Muslims are violent extremists that mean to do theworld harm. There are extremists from all religions in all corners of the globe. The problem is not with Muslims, it's with hateful, bigoted intolerant people's perceptions and misconceptions about them and their religious beliefs and practices. Get over yourself and stay over yourself.

1:59PM PDT on Jun 16, 2011

This is wonderful.

1:21PM PDT on Jun 16, 2011

The idea of eco-friendly is great, but it should be done in their own countries, not in Germany.....or any other European country I'm tired of the Muslim invasion.

11:46PM PDT on Jun 15, 2011

This is a great project. Everybody regardless of religon should try to save 'our planet'. This project may make the planners in the middle east start to question the use of solar panels, seeing as they have so many sunny days!!

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