Planning in conjunction with John McAslan + Partners were shortlisted as one of four teams to participate in a Design competition for a new Bohra educational campus, set on 12 acres in Karen and adjacent to the existing Bohra community complex. The facility would entail more than 600,000 square feet of religious, teaching, recreational, and residential components.
The design brief required the team “to design a campus and its buildings in a manner that reflects the Fatemi culture, while integrating it with 21st-century processes and technologies…the new campus must express an image of contemporary ideas and directions while reflecting historic Fatemi traditions.”
The design team created strong spiritual and pedagogic synergies between the individual buildings, their layout, and the campus landscape in relation to the city, and to the Ngong Hills to the west. Our design vision for Al Jamea’s master-plan flows outwards from a key symbol: the Gham, the single sacred tear, dropping onto a particular piece of land in Nairobi, and then radiating outwards to create a place that possesses an intense spirit of faith and community in which salvation, order, scholastic endeavor, and architecture become a single thing with a great and meaningful presence.
The Masjid, the Mahad, and the Evan – the places of the highest forms of learning and meaning – are at the heart of the campus. Beyond them lie the academic and residential buildings. The entire ensemble of the campus buildings is set in a landscape which also expresses the sacred presence of the Gham and will contribute to the creation of a strong, friendly, and coherent sense of community.
The most unique building on the campus is the Mahad al Zahra. Here, the student will immediately recognize that he is in a place for concentration, contemplation, and quiet discussion; its circular form creating a large open space surrounded by water and by natural landscape. The large space may be considered as three kinds of space for memorizing the Quran: a sacred central space, the domed Qa’at, where he can sit with Sana Awwala and Sana Sanea and learn; a wider and larger threshold space where the student can stroll with his copy of the Quran; and a circular promenade around the outside of the Mahad, with an inner ring of water and gapped, vertical fin walls signifying the 30 Siparas of Quran with the pattern of water as ILM (knowledge) that create the dappled shade and air movement