Park51, AKA Ground Zero Mosque, Mixes Old And New Green Technology

park51 ground zero mosque facade closeup photo

It's technically not a mosque, and it's technically not at Ground Zero, but it is technically interesting. Of course TreeHugger is entirely apolitical and is just interested interested in the green technology, a mix of old and new. Architectural Record interviewed architect Michel Abboud of SOMA about the project, who explains that the facade is really a traditional sunscreen made from ultra-modern materials. Abboud describes it to Alex Padalka:

park51 ground zero mosque facade closeup exterior photo

It was going back to the very essence to what makes Islamic architecture recognizable, and if you go back to history there's a single motif, the Mashrabiya, the sun screen really, using abstract representations, very elaborate arabesques, and turn that motif into some sort of a map to create the facade. ..... Also in relationship to the site -- you've got to keep in mind that this is a southern facade that gets hit with direct sunlight, which requires some sort of sunscreen. At the same time this facade is a structural element on its own, so it's actually an exoskeleton that holds itself. A little bit like a curtain wall, but it's truly structural. But not only is it structural, it's projected into the building and starts defining voids inside the building.

But it is very high tech at the same time; Abboud describes the materials:

Glass reinforced concrete. The whole point is that it's as delicate as lace but structurally as sound as concrete. It's a natural material we use in actual Mashrabiya in any country that has those types of things. You can get extremely thin with that.

More in Architectural Record.

Norman Foster is using the same screening technology in Masdar. Like awnings, it is an effective way of controlling the sun and heat before it gets into a building, and like shutters, it provides ventilation and privacy at the same time.

More on Park51 Community Center:
Controversial NYC Mosque Seeks LEED-Certification

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