Located in the Asian quarter of Üsküdar in Istanbul, and inaugurated in May 2019, six years after work commenced, Grand Camlica Mosque is Turkey’s largest and most impressive mosque, the fruit of the Turkish government’s desire to bear witness to the country’s economic greatness. This new symbol, a building with modern connotations in which the interior spaces have been designed according to the various needs, houses not only the area dedicated exclusively to worship and prayer but also an art gallery, a library, a conference room, an art studio, and the Museum of Islamic Civilization, which contains artefacts from Turkish Islamic culture. This tradition is reflected in the architecture of the structure itself, which evokes the mosques built in the Ottoman and Seljuk architectural styles. On the order of the sultans, these were constructed with a pyramid shape produced by the development of the arches and the somewhat sharply angled vaults, the characteristic series of small domes and the large central dome. In these mosques, the main building has a Greek cross floor plan with a square to the front of it.
The mosque, which is visible from all parts of the city, is rich in details that attract the attention of visitors as they approach it from a distance: its six imposing minarets, which mark the building’s perimeter, represent the six pillars of the Islamic faith. The mosque’s main dome stands 72 metres high to symbolise the 72 nationalities that live in Istanbul. And the main door, which measures 5 x 6.5 metres, is the largest opening of any place of worship in the world. The mosque can hold up to 37,500 people: a capacity that requires a delicate balance between the number of people in the spaces and the need for safety in the event of one of the severe earthquakes the area is prone to. The mosque has been referred to as “a classic project that uses modern tools” and cutting-edge techniques in its construction and is built to the highest standards, making it “one of [the world’s] most robust buildings against earthquakes”.
Grand Camlica Mosque is exceptional, not only in its structural safety but also as a result of the L&L Luce&Light outdoor lighting systems chosen by the Lighting Planner Utku Baksir. The Rio 2 diffuse-light recessed outdoor linear profiles featured are drive-over up to 5000 kg and have a customized construction enabling them to be mounted on a square outer casing. They have been installed in the large front courtyard, the esplanade and to the right of the mosque and mark out the wide paved surface in a strict geometric pattern. The light emitted by the profiles brings the large area to life without occupying any physical space: they leave the way free while interacting not only with the faithful but also with tourists and visitors. In fact, the squares of light have taken on an “interactive” function that was completely unexpected, as they create a sort of luminous podium perfect for selfies and photographs against the stunning background of the magnificent mosque. A number of Siri projectors, with rounded angles and anti-glare recessed optics, have been used to light the trees in the garden to the left of the mosque, giving volume to the green foliage: a very moving effect, in perfect symbiosis with the atmosphere of the place.
This ambitious lighting project has achieved its objective of creating a significant experience not only inside the space dedicated to silence and prayer but also outside.
Grand Mosque Çamlıca, Istanbul, Turkey
Project: arch. Haci Mehmet Guner
Light planning: Utku Baskir