After being asked by Veldwerk (Jantje Engels and Marius Grootveld) and the VAI (Flemish Architecture Institute) to make an “object of desire” for their exhibition “Maatwerk” in the Deutsches Architektur Museum Frankfurt, we took this opportunity to imagine our ideal project.

The project was sparked by a fascination for The house (mosque) of Muhammad in Medina, after reading Camp of Faith by Hamed Khosravi. In this essay the settlement is described: a walled enclosure of a gathering space, with a roofed structure supported by two rows of columns where prayers take place, a roofed structure for companions (suffa) on the opposite side of the space and rooms for the prophet’s family and guests on the west and east.

Our proposal is an intervention in the house: another enclosing structure that becomes an object when placed into the existing boundary walls. The insertion does not alter the existing, but aims to offer a different perspective to it. In some instances the new wall is set apart from the existing boundary and at other instances it frames the columns, aiming to create various interiors and ways of viewing the building. Its mathematical precision opposes and highlights the slightly skewed plan of the existing walls.

Furthermore we were fascinated by the mass that the 900 mm (mudd-brick) walls contained and felt the intervention should be minimised to the absolute necessary only: a tool for framing the medina. Thin brass sheets are sandwiched between cast brass beams, sunken into the floor. The rhythm of the panels refers to the rhythm of the columns and central panels are omitted to create openings, both aiming to establish a relationship between the enclosures.

Location: Deutches Architektur Museum, Frankfurt, Germany
Program: Exhibition
Client: VAi, Veldwerk, Deutches Architektur Museum
Models: Unknown Architects in collaboration with Nicki van Loon
October 2016 – February 2017
Photography: Max Hart Nibbrig