Designing mosques for secular congregations: Transformations of the mosque as a social space in Turkey
Journal of Architectural and Planning Research
Locke Science Publishing
336 - 358
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This study examines contemporary meanings and uses of the mosque in Turkey by arguing that productive architectural plans require understanding both the socio-historical development of the mosque and the socio-political transformations that have led to the mosque's current position in society. Mosque space is conceptualized as a physical environment that cultivates the formation and transformation of individual, social, and collective memories. The study questions whether the mosque still exhibits the qualities of a social space and whether new and innovative mosque designs reflect - programmatically, architecturally, and spatially - transformations related to their current uses and social meanings. These questions are explored through interviews, two questionnaires, and a worksheet, all of which involve a case study of Dogramacizade Mosque in Ankara. On one hand, the findings underscore the changing relationship between Muslim women and mosque space as a result of the transformation of congregations into citizens of a contemporary secular nation and suggest that spatial designs of mosques should take present-day behaviors and practices into consideration rather than ignoring this social aspect through which transformations occur. On the other hand, the collective memory of congregation members resists changing the allocation of prayer halls in the mosque. Members are in favor of continuing the traditional layout of separated spaces based on gender differences. The resistance implies that collective memory changes much slower than behaviors or lifestyles in terms of gender issues. Additionally, parallel to the findings, modernization of the mosque brings forth the idea of resurrecting the mosque s historical form as a social complex that fundamentally conflicts with secularity.