An Inaugural Talk by Prof. Ismawi Zen on The Planning and Design of Masjidal Haram, Makkah Al-Arramah

Date : 7th May 2012
Time : 2:30pm to 4:00pm
Venue : Convention Hall, Block 12, Faculty of Built Environment

Synopsis of the talk:

Makkah is the most holy city for the Muslim Ummah. Every year it attracts millions of pilgrims for haj and many more come to perform umrah throughout the year. The exponential increase in the number of pilgrims in recent years because of many factors, the most important of which is the ease of travelling fueled by the marked increase in the affluence of the Muslim societies the world over has turned what used to be a once-in-a-lifetime trip to a repeat trip on almost an annual basis for many has great strained the city and its infrastructure as well as services. In the implementation of his role as the Custodian of the Two Holy Places, the king has decreed that the Masjidal Haram Makkah al-Mukarramah be greatly extended to ensure that pilgrims be able to perform the haj and umrah in maximum comfort and safety.
As Masjidal Haram is the raison d’ĂȘtre for the city, its expansion is going to have profound effects on many parts of the urban fabrics: from the simple aspects of circumambulating the Kaabah to re-housing thousands of people who are displaced by the exercise, the demand on infrastructure as well as the solid waste management system. There is also the big question about environmental implications of such a mammoth project. These and many more questions and aspects need to be addressed by the planning and design teams in order that the new expanded mosque will not only accommodate more than double the number of people at any one time but also be the pre-cursor to a better way of dealing with the environment – true to the role of man as Allah’s khalifah on earth.
A variety of planning and design solutions were considered and only one was accepted. This final design reflects the integration of all the good aspects of the many that were considered. The talk will discuss the process and the factors considered in the design as well as the philosophies of each planning and design approach. The final design was not necessarily the best but the optimal one from those considered – fully aware that there is no finality in the design for the growing Ummah.