Taught by Nathan Jones and February Phillips - who are architects with the London and Cambridge based practice 5th Studio, as well as Design Fellows at the world-renowned Cambridge University, the collaboration began in late September 2011. They explain the background and ambition of the studio project below:
"We are really excited about this project, and are very grateful to have the opportunity to work in dialogue with the West London Islamic Centre.
The design studio is the focal point of studying architecture at University, and the studio we are teaching is the third and final year of the undergraduate degree - when the students have the opportunity to work on an ambitious design project for almost the whole academic year, before going on to work in practice.
We decided to investigate the design of mosques because we are interested in exploring buildings which contribute to the cultural and civic order of the city. Mosques have historically been buildings with strong relationships to their urban contexts, and which accommodate a mix of uses beyond their core religious function - extending to encompass a range of cultural and social activities. We wanted to explore a contemporary re-interpretation of this tradition - in the knowledge that this would make for an exciting and challenging brief for our students.
During our research, we were struck by the synergy which this emerging studio brief had with the exciting project for the new West London Islamic Centre. So we approached the Centre to explore the possibility to use that project to inform the design brief which we are giving to the students - and the dialogue has developed from there.
The sudents visitd the existing mosque building in November, to discuss the ambitions of the re-development project with members of the mosque. For our students, it wass an invaluable opportunity to develop their understanding of the brief, and to identify with an imagined 'client' for their projects.
We are very grateful to the Centre staff for their hospitality and support of our work - and are sure that it will lead to some exciting design proposals by our students."