Religious Architecture Case Study

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Religious Architecture: Comparative Study
(Wells Cathedral and Friday Mosque, Isfahan)

The purpose of this research is to compare and contrast two selected religious buildings, one of which Islamic, and another that is Christian. This will respectively exemplify and illustrate the development of Christian and Islamic styles of religious architecture before the end of the 14th century. The research will mainly focus on the importance of furniture design and interior decoration in each of the two buildings. It will also appraise the urban or landscape context of each example, as well as an analysis of the architectural form in order to point out the example with the superior form of architecture.

INTRODUCTION:
The term ''Religious Architecture'' refers to the design and creation of spaces of worship. The form and structure of religious architecture manifests a community's understanding of the relationship between the spatial environment, the definition of God, and the God-human relationship1. This research paper focuses on two religious buildings; the Friday Mosque (Masjid e- Jami) in Isfahan which was built to Islamic style, the other is Wells Cathedral in Somerset, Wells which was built to Gothic style. Each building will be analyzed based on urban/landscape context, plan scheme, Interiors, and form to draw a conclusion of the key differences between the two buildings, and consequently compare and contrast them. The Conclusion will also include the design merits of each, in addition to the building that has the superior form. Islamic Architecture (Overview):

I
slamic architecture extended from the 7th. to the 19th. century. Muslims communicated with other cultures and steered them to cope with Islamic principles and concepts in order to derive their own unique architectural style2. And since statues and paintings were forbidden in Islam, Muslims mastered abstract decoration, mosaic and foliage. Islamic architecture was aimed to serve rituals in the first place, or else called Ibada. The principle of unity is presented in the horizontal projection through the orientation of mosques towards Mecca. The Most important building was the mosque which is primarily a prayer hall that served a religious and social function, as the Muslim community would gather there. Friday Mosque, Isfahan:

L
ocated in Isfahan, Iran, Masjid-e Jame (Friday Mosque) provides an outstanding illustration for the evolution of Islamic Architecture, and a prototype for later mosques in the area. It was built between the 11th.and 12th. centuries, and is a prominent example of Persian Islamic architecture. The mosque is a grand congregational mosque and was built as the focus of the town. [pic][pic][pic]

1. Urban/ Landscape Context:`
The Friday Mosque is located in the centre of Isfahan in Iran, 340 km south of Tehran. It was built on a relatively flat ground, and roughly 45 minutes from Imam Square. The mosque is close to several other mosques including Masjid e- Shah and Lutfallah Mosque3. The mosque is distinguished by its integration into Isfahan’s urban fabric. The layout of the many gates and entrances provides a smooth transition between the city space and the mosque space, which weaves the mosque with the city’s activities and provides ease of access. The mosque is flanked by two towers from the south. These towers, in addition to a large dome serve as visual landmarks as they rise above Isfahan’s horizon. The mosque walls are shared with adjacent buildings. The absence of defining walls and the proportions of the mosque allows it to fit the surrounding urban context. Another factor contributing to the mosque's authenticity is its function, both as a mosque and a part of Isfahan's historic bazaar fabric. The setting of the mosque allows access from both the street and the bazar. Local craftsmen and materials were used which helps integrating it with the urban texture. Materials include stucco and bricks. 2. Plan Scheme:...
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