Will the Grand Mosque of Copenhagen bridge the cultural and religious divide?

Even though there’s still something rotten in the state of Denmark between Danes and the Muslim community (remember the cartoons), the Bjarke Ingels Group (BIG) takes on the challenge of creating the country’s first purpose-built mosque – Danish style.

Mosque in Copenhagen, cultural bridge, controversial project, religious tension, religious and cultural divide,

The Grand Mosque of Copenhagen has been in discussion and development for years. It’s underlying purpose: Support the cultural integration of Islamic and Danish societies, and strengthen the ties between the Danish Muslim community and the region. Demonstrations against the proposed mosque continue, but local politicians recently approved the development plan.

The Bjarke Ingels Group sidestepped a traditional mosque style – and went, well, more Scandinavian in concept.

According to the founder and creative director of BIG, Bjarke Ingels, “Our purpose was to design a Danish mosque as an interpretation of the Islamic architectural and cultural tradition adjusted to the Danish context – the same elements that we know from traditional mosques in the Arabic world, adapted to Danish climate conditions and lighting.”

Describing the building in Danish terms may be contributing to the controversy. BIG depicts the 46-meter (150-foot) spiral as “the Islamic counterpart” to the steeple of Our Saviour Church in Copenhagen. The firm further explains the skylight as a replacement for the traditional closed ceiling – allowing the site to be “bathed in Danish daylight.”

Hard to tell whether BIG eschewed a PR agent or the Danes don’t live under the same state of political correctness as American businesses. All things considered, at least Denmark hasn’t gone the way of Switzerland.

Image © BIG – Bjarke Ingels Group

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