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.
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