The controversial Abbey Mills mega-mosque project has descended into farce, with the client insisting Mangera Yvars Architects has been fired despite the firm's insistence that its is still on board.
Tablighi Jamaat, the Islamic movement behind the £300 million scheme in West Ham, east London, said it had sacked AJ 40 Under 40 stars Ali Mangera and Ada Yvars Bravo because of unauthorised publication of design concepts and press statements made in the name of Abbey Mills' trustees.
A statement, issued yesterday (30 April) by the trustees, said: 'The trustees of Abbey Mills Mosque have written to Sir Robin Wales, Mayor of Newham and announced that they have severed links with Ali Mangera.'
A spokesman for the trustees told the AJ: 'It was felt that the relationship with both parties could no longer continue. We will be announcing the appointment of a new design team later this week.'
However, Mangera insists the practice is 'still on the job' He told the AJ he had held top-level talks on Sunday (29 April) with the 'main guys' in Tablighi Jamaat, and said the practice was still leading the project.
He said: 'We had a high-level meeting with the heads of Tablighi Jamaat and everything has been cleared up and we are to be retained. This had nothing to do with the design of the project.'
Criticism from local residents, Christian groups and even Muslim leaders over the size of Mangera Yvars' original 7ha concept - now radically scaled back - is understood to have been a factor in Tablighi Jamaat's decision.
The scheme initially proposed to accommodate up to 70,000 worshippers on a site a stone's throw from the 2012 Olympic Park. But this number was to reduced to 12,000 under new plans unveiled in February. However, it will still be the largest religious building in Britain (Mangera Yvars presses on with mega mosque despite 'government opposition'
Abbey Mills trustee Abdul Sattar Shahid said: 'In the last few years we have perhaps naively pursued options to bring our vision for a new mosque to fruition with those who describe themselves as friends and supporters.
'We have never intended to build a mosque the size that has been suggested in the media. Our vision is for a development that enhances the area of West Ham and provides a mosque and complex that will support our work in the Muslim faith.
'We regret we have inadvertently allowed our opponents the opportunity to use our own naivety against us. But we will now address their false and disappointing accusations directly and demonstrate to the community that they have nothing to fear nor oppose in our plans.'
Responding to this statement, Mangera said: 'The scale is not an issue - we have followed the brief.'
An international design competition is to be launched for one of the largest Islamic cultural centres in Europe - in the Swiss capital Berne. The 23,0002
centre, estimated to cost $73 million (£36.5 million), will house a museum of Islam, a mosque, a convention centre, offices and a four-star hotel.by Clive Walker