Welsh School of Architecture

Architectural History & Theory (AHTG)

Yusuf Adams

Yusuf Adams received his Diploma in Architecture from the Nottingham School of Architecture. He is currently working on a PhD at the Welsh School of Architecture where he also teaches third year undergraduate tutorials and lectures on the Issues in Contemporary Architecture course part- time. In addition he teaches the undergraduate Architectural Design Studio at Nottingham Trent University. He has worked both in architectural practice and in structural engineering. Projects he has been involved with include the restoration of a fire damaged historic building, the conservation of 12th century Churches, feasibility studies on P.F.I. schools that were never built, the design of docking bays for airplanes and the security gates for passengers in a major UK airport. Prior to this is a background in both fine art - from large public sculpture commissions in teams, to single exhibitions - live music performance and song writing. Yusuf has also traded in oriental carpets from across the Middle East and fine goods from Morocco - having a go at running a souk in Norwich - and still possesses a 120 year old Persian tabriz which is too big for his house.

Yusuf Adams

PhD Abstract
Beyond the Minaret - A Space for the Spirit - A Place for the People

The research will involve all aspects of the design of a mosque complex in the Midlands, UK. The design process will form an integral framework for the PhD, with feedback between research and practice as the proposal manifests and is ultimately constructed. The aim of the research will be to re-read the problem, in the light of its programmatic and poetic potential, of the manifestation of the Muslim community in the context of a secular society. Aptly, the live project incorporates the re-use of a derelict church, Sunday school and a public house; the project asserts the novelty of an 'imperfect' existing site and the transformative aspect of intervention, demolition, and retention.

The proposed research answers the needs of the ever growing and changing Muslim communities in the UK to become agents of transformation, helping to enrich the built environment and contribute positively to the wider society. An ethical architectural programme - fitting to both inward and outward facing realities - requires that the manifestation of the mosque must 'know itself' - in other words it must respond to its specific purpose and place. Distilling this further involves a move from reading the mosque purely as an art historical object, defined by style or type, to the interpretation of the subject of the mosque, which includes the behaviour or daily life pattern of people, and the experiential aspects of prayer and service which inform the very tectonics of the building. A key aspect of the research is to seek ways in which bridges are formed between the use and perception of the mosque complex by Muslims and wider society, and an identification of where shared benefit lies. The premise of the research is that the authenticity of the mosque relates to specificity of place and purpose, and that an ethical understanding of an embodied architecture must inform the manifestation of the mosque today. This understanding will be defined as an Embodied Adab (best conduct or behavior), drawing from the source of Islamic teaching. An extra layer of complexity arises in the use of existing buildings to weave a shared architecture which acknowledges that the mosque is situated in a continuum of layers within the urban fabric.


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