This paper has now been published on our Programme of Events page – 3rd August 2020
A TASTE OF PARADISE:
Designing the new Cambridge Mosque Garden
This article will look at how the principal elements of Islamic garden design, along with their profound spiritual symbolism, are integrated into this very English of urban settings. One of the key ingredients of an Islamic Paradise garden is the idea of the sanctuary, reminding all visitors of the importance of nurturing the inner ‘garden of the heart’ as well as the outer garden of trees, flowers and water.
From the beginning of the design process, the principal intention for this garden was to offer the visitor a calm green space to walk through, or sit in for a moment, on the way to prayer. It serves, not only as a quiet transition area between clamorous, traffic-ridden Mill Road outside and the peace of the Mosque within, but also aims to give a little taste of Jannat al-firdaws, the Gardens of Paradise described in the Qur’an.
This new Cambridge Central Mosque is Europe’s first eco-friendly mosque and was completed in 2019. Readers will be interested to know that all the geometric patterns used in the Mosque (the atrium floor, wooden doors, mashrabiyya – wood and metal screens – and stained-glass windows) were designed by the late Professor Keith Critchlow, co-founder of the Temenos Academy.
The Islamic-inspired garden within the Mosque boundary is open to all, Muslims and non-Muslims alike. Since the virus restrictions have been relaxed this is now open from 11am – 5pm.
There is also a narrow Community garden lying between the pavement of Mill Road and the Mosque railings. This consists of four planting beds with birch trees and is open to the public all the time. Indeed, a bus stop is located here with a particularly good view through the Mosque railings into the Islamic Garden!
[Photo: Emma Clark, Cambridge Mosque Garden]