Faith In The City: The Mosque in the Contemporary Urban West

10-11 November 2010

In partnership with Openvizor and Arts Council England's Arts Islam programme, The Architecture Foundation presents a two day symposium exploring the ways in which religious buildings - in particular the Mosque - shape, and are shaped by, the public life of contemporary western cities. The programme will open with a keynote lecture given by Michel Abboud, Architectural Design consultant for New York's highly debated Park51 Community Centre.

Through a constructive dialogue with key thinkers that will tackle issues of contemporary vs traditional design, the changing role of religious buildings and the plural demands of urban communities, Faith in the City will explore the context of current debates around the construction of new mosques in European and American cities, and suggest alternative ways in which architecture can give form to faith and might aid in navigating the dynamics between ideologies and communities, private practice and the public communication of belief.

In light of the banning of minarets in Switzerland by public referendum, and the furor in America's response to the siting of a new Islamic culture centre in downtown New York - dubbed the "Ground Zero Mosque" by the media and the group Stop Islamization of America - architecture's political and social role has become a renewed site of contest. Using such examples of the challenges facing contemporary religious buildings as a catalyst for further debate, Faith in the City aims to further the discussion of the social, spatial, political and symbolic role of faith buildings in Europe and the USA, through a close exploration of the mosque's changing role in the 'Western' world. Examples of how religious minorities have previously spatially integrated themselves within European cities, best design practice for urban faith buildings, and the future of pluralism in Europe will all be debated.

In addition to Michel Abboud's evening lecture, architects, activists, academics and artists will present case studies of recent mosque buildings from across Europe - alongside historic precedents and possible future scenarios - in a day of discussion at The Architecture Foundation.

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Arts and Islam and Openvizor