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Fabric defines Mosque of the Light in Dubai

Projects | April 1, 2018 | By:

The design of Mosque of the Light, which purposefully incorporates light and shadow in a changing rhythmic pattern, is a direct reference to the effect often used in Islamic architecture, which revolves around the control of natural light. Photos: Studio Niko Kapa.

A newly constructed mosque in Dubai, United Arab Emirates, makes unique use of fabric to create a tranquil setting aglow with filtered light. Mosque of the Light features a spacious, spare design that also relies on fabric to divide and organize the space. Designed by the Dubai-based architecture firm, Studio Niko Kapa, the 4,800-square-meter building begins with a flexible framework of light steel that is easily assembled. There are no walls. Instead, a series of fabric elements much like vertical louvers are hung on the structure to create a covering and define the interior space.

The steel structure draped with fabric creates semi-open/semi-closed spaces that highlight the interplay of light and shadow. The layering of textiles defines the gradual transition from exterior to interior.

While the mosque’s design is minimal, it incorporates inspired, environmentally friendly elements to provide a cool and shady environment to keep worshippers comfortable in often-brutal desert heat. The vertical fabric strips provide shade and glare protection and also pick up breezes.

A cooling pond with grey water from nearby buildings surrounds the mosque. Using an embedded sprinkler system, the water moistens the fabrics on the perimeter of the building envelope. The gaps between the fabric allow air to circulate, and as the moisture evaporates the space is cooled, enhancing natural ventilation while taking advantage of the fabric’s breathability.

At night, the translucent fabrics illuminate a soft glow to the surroundings, giving the mosque a dramatic presence. For more information, visit

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