Bait Ur Rouf Mosque, Bangladesh / Marina Tabassum

Architect                                        : Marina Tabassum
Location                                          : Dhaka, Bangladesh
Client                                                : Sufia Khatun
Area                                                   : 754m²
Completed                                     : 2012

Ventilation and the play of light make this neighbourhood mosque a refuge for spirituality. After a difficult life and the loss of her husband and near relatives, the client donated a part of her land for a mosque to be built. A temporary structure was erected. After her death, her grand-daughter, an architect, acted on her behalf as fundraiser, designer, client and builder to bring the project to completion.

In an increasingly dense neighbourhood of Dhaka, the Mosque was raised on a plinth on a site axis creating a 13-degree angle with the qibla direction, which called for innovation in the layout. A cylindrical volume was inserted into a square, facilitating a rotation of the prayer hall, and forming light courts on four sides. The hall is a space raised on eight peripheral columns. Ancillary functions are located in spaces created by the outer square and the cylinder. The plinth remains vibrant throughout the day with children playing and elderly men chatting and waiting for the call to prayer.

Funded and used by locals, and inspired by Sultanate mosque architecture, it breathes through porous brick walls, keeping the prayer hall ventilated and cool. Natural light brought in through a skylight is ample for the daytime.


Built on the northeast limits of the city, this terracotta brick building is exquisitely scaled, holding the corner in what is a fragmented, chaotic urban landscape.

Built in brick using traditional methods, this mosque is an attempt to create a language of architecture that takes essence from the glorious legacy of mosque architecture in Bengal during the Sultanate period, while maintaining a contemporary expression.

The Mosque is a perfect square that sits on a high plinth, which prevents floodwater from entering the structure, allows people to sit and talk, and creates a separation between the sacred site and the busy street.

To solve the 13 degree angle created by the existing site with the Qibla axis, a cylendrical volume was inserted into the square envelope to facilitate the rotation of the prayer hall towards Qibla simultaneously formulating light courts on four sides.

Exterior view of corner Lightcourt and the vertival linear gap that indicates the qibla direction.

The riwaq, or colonnade use the additional depth allocated by the cylinder off-centred on the south facing side.

Built in brick, this mosque is an attempt at creating a language of architecture that takes essence from the Sultanate period and gives a contemporary expression.

The ablution uses the additional depth allocated by the cylinder off-centred on the east facing side

The quality of space and architecture in this project proves that with the use of local materials and dedicated craftsmen, and an attempt towards spirituality through light can span the distance between here and infinity, between today and eternity.

The monsoon rain may pose a problem as the openings for the hot air to escape also allow in rain. However, it is important to keep cross-ventilation even when it is raining, and the rain seems to have good drainage in the spaces where it enters

Column free prayer hall is raised on eight peripheral columns, in addition to four light courts, random circular roof openings allows daylight into the prayer hall creating an ornate pattern on the floor enhancing spirituality through light.

Qibla direction is marked by a slit of light penetrating the cylendrical brick wall which forms a light court with the facing flat wall.

A gap in the brick wall denote the direction of the qibla, and then splays it so that, during worship, people don’t get distracted by the sight lines onto the street, but see instead the sunlight bouncing off the thickness of the wall..

Built within a modest budget, one that was raised through charitable contributions. Yet it is the architectural expression that is admirable – the quintessential mosque, elegant yet elemental, with spaces that are direct, simple and robust, allowing the congregation to gather in prayer as equals.

Interior view showing the minimum materials used, exposed concrete and bricks, where light and ventilation are naturally provided by the simple vocabulary of Jali bricks architecture.

The prayer hall separates itself from the rest of the structure by open-to-sky light wells between the cylinder and the inner square. Light pours down on the unplastered brick walls, giving it a primordial character.

Detailed view of the brick jali, gaps between bricks let air and daylight through the wall while diffusing the glare of direct sunlight.

The prayer hall is a carefully scaled and proportioned volume that is contemplative in nature, is evenly lit to enhance the feeling of all as equal

Cite: (2017). Bait Ur Rouf Mosque | Aga Khan Development Network. [online] Available at: [Accessed 17 Oct. 2017].

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