The Definitive Guide to Living in the Capital , Cairo , Egypt

Arts & Culture -

Egypt’s New and Reformed Riyadh Mosque

architecture history mosque
Egypt’s New and Reformed Riyadh Mosque
written by
Diana Osman
via Behance

Egypt has witnessed many renovations across the past years, targetting areas old and new all over Egypt. One of the most recent redevelopment projects involves the restoration and reconstruction of the Old Mosque of Riyadh, located in northeast Egypt in the Riyadh village near Abu-Kabir in the Sharqia Governorate. This redevelopment project was taken on as voluntary work by three Egyptian architects, and is meant to bring the Riyadh Mosque, which has been demolished and rebuilt time and time again, back to life.

The New Riyadh Mosque

Compared to the original Old Mosque of Riyadh, the new Riyadh Mosque takes on various structural advancements while remaining true to the mosque’s historical role in Riyadh village. The structural extensions and redesigns seek both functional and symbolic purposes. The design narrative is immersed in its surroundings, connected to the environment, framed by the sky and extended from Earth. Moreover, the new mosque offers spatial designs incorporating monolithic, oriented and secluded features. Such a combination of features allows for the functional circulation of fresh air and natural daylight to flow through and illuminate the prayer hall. There are also plenty more spiritual and symbolic features to enhance worship. 

One example showcasing these multi-purpose structural designs is the two riwaqs on either side of the prayer hall and preceded by a series of gateways leading to their entrance. While the riwaqs, or courtyards, serve the functional purpose of helping light and air circulate through the prayer hall due to their openness to the sky, they also have a spiritual purpose, offering worshippers an additional space to reflect and gather. Similarly, the positioning of the minaret at the right corner of the qibla wall not only provides easy identification of the mosque from all directions of the village, but it also has symbolic grounds that tie the mosque to its historic, sacred role in the community by preserving the original village skyline. 

The new Riyadh Mosque is also set to include small extensions in addition to the main prayer hall, including a small library and a kuttab for teaching the Quran. 

Why This Reconstruction Matters to Us

Mosques are holy temples allowing for private or communal prayer to take place, and thus, it only makes sense that they should be continuously preserved and renovated to ensure their functionality. However, mosques also serve a vital and overlooked role in enhancing community building by allowing worshippers a shared space to gather to pray, read, or collect their thoughts together. So, ensuring this space is kept up-to-date but grounded and true to the community it shelters is a sound investment. 

Old communities and areas are commonly overlooked when it comes to developmental projects, so it’s a breath of fresh air to see Riyadh village, which has increased in population in the past 50 years, spotlighted for this next development venture. It is essential to provide refurbishing assistance to these areas as they served a central role in shaping Egypt’s history and culture.