The Victoria & Albert Museum in London has unveiled its Ramadan Pavilion, intended as a tribute to the religious observance.
It is an immersive experience for visitors seeking to learn about the customs and traditions associated with Ramadan.
The V&A said the design for its first Ramadan Pavilion is reminiscent of a modern mosque, drawing inspiration from the museum’s extensive collection of prints and drawings of historic Islamic architecture and seeks to represent the history of British Muslims and their place in the country. The idea behind the design was to reflect the way British mosques have been built by their communities, referencing various traditions of Islamic history through architectural symbols.
The architectural installation will be at the V&A museum’s Exhibition Road Courtyard until May 1. It will be part of this year’s Ramadan Festival, an annual event organised by the Ramadan Tent Project.
It was designed by Shahed Saleem, an architect, writer and teacher at the University of Westminster School of Architecture.
Saleem, whose parents are from India, is the founder of architectural firm Makespace and the designer of mosques in Bethnal Green, Hackney and Aberdeen in Scotland. “I began working on my first mosques almost 20 years ago when I started to be approached through word of mouth by mosque communities to look at their buildings and aspirations,” he said. “I have worked on many since then, at all stages, from adaptations and extensions to new-builds.”
Saleem’s mosque on Hackney Road, for example, is an extension to an early 19th-century end-of-terrace house whose gable wall is inscribed with a Victorian advertisement for locks and safes.
The Pavilion will serve as a venue for a range of public events and two open iftars.
Its purpose is to honour the diverse experiences of Muslims in the UK and worldwide during this time of year, and to highlight the fundamental values and customs of Ramadan through creative expression, exploration and a dynamic public arts programme.
The history of the Pavilion
The first mosque in Britain was constructed in the 18th century as a whimsical structure by William Chambers at Kew Gardens. The design was inspired by Turkish Islamic architecture and featured a pair of minarets. It was one of numerous temples and garden structures built during that era, with the Great Pagoda being the sole remaining structure today.
Saleem, an architect who wrote The British Mosque: An Architectural and Social History, published in 2018, has reimagined this structure in the vibrantly coloured Ramadan Pavilion.
Founded in 2013, the Ramadan Tent Project is a charity that has won awards for its efforts to promote community cohesion and deepen understanding of the month of Ramadan. The project organises the annual Ramadan Festival, which is a collection of artistic, cultural, creative events to inspire and engage audiences from all backgrounds, in addition to the UK’s largest community event in Ramadan, Open Iftar.
Updated: March 03, 2023, 12:59 PM