[First look + plans] NRAP Architects has submitted an outline planning application for a 9,500-capacity mosque in West Ham, east London – formerly dubbed the ‘mega mosque’
The Riverine Centre project – proposed for a former Chemical works site – features a 29,000m² mosque alongside a library, visitors’ centre, eight apartments and a sports pavilion.
The Cambridge-based studio replaced Allies and Morrison on the scheme in November 2011. A 2006 landmark vision for the project by Mangera Yvars fell by the wayside in 2007 when Allies and Morrison took over as architect on the job.
The project backer, Islamic movement Tablighi Jamaat currently operates out of a 2,000 capacity building on the 6.5 hectare site which has temporary planning permission until early next year.
NRAP’s scheme submitted to local authority Newham Council has been scaled down from previous 12,000-capacity plans for the structure. Plans to include commercial uses and more apartments have also been shelved.
Constructed from red local brick and a gold-coloured aluminium alloy, the project has been designed to have a reduced impact in its immediate surroundings close to West Ham train station.
NRAP director Richard Owers said: ‘What we are trying to balance is the aesthetic of Islamic architecture with sensitivity to the site and context.
‘The proposal is not overtly Islamic in its appearance but it references it more subtly through the use of perforated screens to create a sense of privacy.’
Designed for future linkage to canal paths and local infrastructure, the scheme will be open to the public and feature community sports facilities – according to the architect.
Owers said the developments could be built in phases and the practice was hoping to take care of all of the scheme’s detailed design.
He explained for visitors approaching the site it would be ‘like entering a park or landscape with a mosque as a [focal] point.’
Pointing to parallels between the scheme and legacy ambitions for the nearby Olympic Park, he said: ‘The success of a scheme as a whole relies on a really good landscape.’
Explaining the client’s ambitions for the project, Owers said: ‘There is an established need for something of a much larger capacity than they have already and there is also an anticipated growth in the religion. Their aspirations are to serve Newham and the wider community.’