“What I’m interested in is making buildings that could only happen in this place, in this time, with this culture that we have now,” says British-Indian architect Shahed Saleem. Mr. Saleem says he is “re-imagining” the British mosque, doing away with traditional minarets and domes, and focusing on sharp and clean lines.
Though a modernist, the architect says combining new forms with the past is important to his work to “maintain the connection with Islamic history, architecture, and culture – but by using it in a way that is contemporary. It’s about using it in a new way for its own purposes and situation.”
Mr. Saleem has designed mosques all over London – this year, the Islamic Centre Trust was nominated for the Aga Khan Award, and a few more of his designs are in the preparation stage. Through the years, the number of British mosques has steadily and exponentially increased. In 1990 there were only about 400 mosques, and today there are around 1,800.
On speaking about his Muslim faith and his work, Mr. Saleem reflects: “We do have to generate our own architectural language which reflects our European Muslim identity. The architecture has to be responsive to who you are basically and to the community…. Everyone is different and at the end of the day not everyone will agree with the buildings I might do.”