Architectural Design of the Selimiye Mosque
My name is Mimar Sinan, and I am an architect with a vast experience in Ottoman-Turkish art and a rich architectural history. My training as an army engineer allowed me to develop strong practical skills in architecture. The reason is that I have traveled through vast geographical regions which in turn have enriched my architectural knowledge. The richness of my experience in the industry can be illustrated by the main works in Istanbul, namely the Kulliye of Suleyman the Magnificent and the Sehzade Mosque. The former is located at one of the hills in Istanbul in front of the Golden Horn and is one of my greatest accomplishments. It took me approximately seven years to complete the architecture of a mosque surrounded by a kulliye comprising of four colleges, a hospital, a hospice for travelers, a soup kitchen, an asylum, and a hamam.
The Suleymaniye Mosque is a unique construction as it is the initial type of mosque to be made with the design of a half cubic roof. My acquaintance in architectural designs and concepts can be compared to the ones of Michelangelo, a representative of the European Renaissance, as well as to the Renaissance works of Florence and Venice. With lessons from Hagia Sophia, a Greek Orthodox Christian patriarchal basilica which is highly admired, I have the intention of building something better and bigger in order to prove the greatness of Islam. Islamic architectural principles observe cosmic and symbolic conceptions where the dome is depicted as a symbol of God’s protection and domination. Consequently, my designs adopt a simplified model using a single central dome. It is based on the circle being a perfect figure which theoretically represents a perfect God. The next section will briefly map an overview of the architectural design of the Mosque.
Description of the Selimiye Mosque
The construction will be located on a platform enclosed by the buildings of the kulliye with the mosque at the center. Other sides will be occupied by a medrese on the south-east, a school on the south-west, and a market building on the west. The idea of having the aforementioned facilities in one place is in line with Muslim’s firm belief in Paradise based on the teachings of the Koran which has influenced the architects to create an earthly paradise similar to the one I intend to build for you. Landscape features form an integral part of the site planning and architecture characterized by buildings being set in the landscape to deliberately symbolize a paradisiacal environment.
Construction methods will adhere to Islamic architectural philosophies and principles. Soil mechanic techniques will be used to construct a strong foundation. It will include digging the foundation and waiting for about three or four years for the soil to settle. At the same time, timber piling will be used to bind the soil in order to eliminate any possibility of cracking. The main building materials will be stones (babbly, mhyar, or jabal), steel arches, wage, hay, mud and gypsum. The mixture of mud and hay will be used as binder. Materials used to make the foundation will include lime and broken wage with ash being used at the mortar. The foundation will have a depth of between 1 to 3 meters. For proper acoustics inside the mosque, the domes will be paired creating an acoustical dome effect. Reverberation and reflections will also be minimized by using long stone blocks (about 18” ) for the ceiling. Wide gaps will also be left on the floor in order to catch resonant waves.
Architectural plan of the mosque
The courtyard will contain three entrances on the west, east and north. The center of the courtyard will be fitted with a 12-sided fountain. The corners of the prayer hall will resemble a minaret with a height of 71m and 3 balconies. Porticoes will have two bays for latecomers with panel vaults, and the rest will be covered with domes. The most special peculiarity will be the roof of the prayer hall. It will have a monumental dome rising to 42.25m in height with a diameter of approximately 31.28m that will be carried on eight 12-sided pillars. Both the height and the diameter surpass other buildings designed as a mosque. The dome is an important element in Islamic architecture.
An article published by the Hurriyet Daily News identifies the dome as an important symbol signifying power and the focal point of assembly. In Islam, it represents the “vault of heaven in the same way as the garden prefigures Paradise”. That is the reason a lot of emphasis and efforts are being invested in the dome. Two buttresses will support the east and west pillars, and the spaces between the walls as well as the pillars will be decorated with galleries. The Sultan’s loge will be located in the southeast corner, and the center of the prayer hall will have a loge for chanters.
Architectural plan of the mosque
An octagonal architectural design with a support system of pillars cut into square shell of walls will define the final work. Ornamented marble will be used to make the pulpit and the altar. Construction materials to be used will include tile, wood, stone, marble, and mother of pearl decorative features which are important Turkish architectural features. The walls of the mihrab, pulpit, gallery, and pavilion will be decorated with tile. A great part of the interior decoration will be done using Iznik tiles while the exterior will be defined by a mixture of stone mixed with bricks.
The construction of Selimiye Mosque may seem costly. However, my able team and I assure you that all materials for construction will be utilized properly, and audits will be conducted to ensure that the construction budget is respected and adhered. In addition, having overseen numerous projects of such a momentum, I am positive that the funds allocated to this construction will not be misused, and in case an issue arises, I shall be personally held responsible. As explained in the previous section, this building will have the tallest minarets and the highest dome in the world. It will indeed remain as the main landmark in Turkey due to its taller dome that stands without support from semi-domes or other lower pillars. This masterpiece in the Islamic architecture will never be matched. It is my sincere hope that you will entrust me with this assignment. In return, expect an award winning an architectural design and a quality work from a professional.
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