The new Cambridge Central MosqueHassan Raja

The new Cambridge Central Mosque, the first purpose-built mosque in Cambridge, has been awarded a major regional planning award at the University Arms in Cambridge, an event attended by over 100 regional planning professionals. 

The mosque, which opened earlier this year in March, was declared the winner at the Royal Town Planning Institute’s East of England Regional Awards for Planning Excellence 2019. The judges said the project represented “the pinnacle of public involvement, learning and understanding for planning professionals”.

The £23m project, Europe’s first eco-mosque, was built with thoughtful environmental consideration. The website states that “environmental concerns have been paramount in the design”.With natural lighting, vaulted ceilings, efficient heat pumps and rainwater used to flush WCs, the building seeks to combine elegance with environmental consciousness. 

The convenor of the judging panel, David Potter, praised the “innovative design” of the “impressive community facility”. He said that the careful construction and design of the building and its surrounding gardens had resulted in “a building that will become a cultural and physical landmark in the area.” 

Hassan Raja

Trustee of the mosque and Professor of Islamic Studies at Cambridge University, Abdal Hakim Murad, also known as Tim Winter, said that the award was a “very encouraging sign that an often neglected community can produce symbols of real excellence”. 

When asked about the significance of excellent design to houses of prayer, he said that these kinds of projects can be “tricky for architects”, as “ego and rampant self-expression are frowned on, and because they have to be serene sanctuaries for so many different kinds of people”.

“The mosque, which symbolises the city's global status and multicultural population, is an important symbolic addition to a very long-standing tradition of adding wonders to the built environment which we all inhabit.”


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Designated places of prayer for faiths that are not orientated towards Christianity have been hard to come by in Cambridge. An investigation this year by Varsity showed that 19 of 31 Cambridge colleges had no provision for a permanent prayer space independent of a college chapel, and other colleges only offered temporary use of rooms for prayer and meditation. 

Hakim Murad said that with “census figures suggesting a Cambridge Muslim population of over five thousand, it became clear that a significant purpose-built mosque was long overdue”. He noted that, since its opening, the building “reaches its capacity of a thousand worshippers every Friday”, and that this only highlights the continued need for more purpose-built houses of prayer for the community. 

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