Marble Mihrab, Oxford
stoneCIRCLE was commissioned to produce many of the stone features in the Oxford Centre for Islamic Studies.
- Materials: Statuario Classico
- Architect: Professor Abdel-Wahed El -Wakil, Blampied & Partners
- Keywords: Architectural, Ecclesiastical
The Oxford Centre for Islamic Studies's new building next to Magdalen College was designed by Professor Abdel-Wahed El -Wakil, considered by many to be the foremost contemporary authority in Islamic architecture in conjunction with Blampied & Partners Ltd.
The architects’ intention for the project was to create a college which was a symbol of the harmony between the traditions of scholarship of Oxford and Islam, and to this end they have included features typical of other Oxford colleges and styles from the classical period of Islam, resulting in a beautiful stone building which incorporates a prayer hall, complete with 35m tower and dome alongside residential and teaching facilities, a lecture theatre and an exhibition hall.
stoneCIRCLE was commissioned to produce many of the stone features in the building including a marble staircase, a marble retaining wall for a water feature, granite vanity tops for various washbasins and a marble mortuary slab, with pride of place being given to a stunning marble Mihrab for the prayer hall. In Islamic mosques, the Mihrab is a niche in a wall that indicates the qibla or the direction of Mecca. In the present day it is often ornately decorated and made to resemble a gateway or entrance to Mecca.
The Mihrab in the Oxford Centre for Islamic Studies is made of hand polished white Statuary Marble from Italy specifically selected for the project, and is decorated with Islamic verses carved into the stone. stoneCIRCLE was chosen for the job as it had the right mix of technical expertise, modern equipment and traditional hand skills.
The 3D technical drawings for the project were transferred from the architects to stoneCIRCLE and the gateway was carved on the company’s CNC machines without the need for modelling. Once the blocks had been cut they were polished by hand with further carving also carried out by hand in some cases. The finished piece is made up of over 30 different bits of stone which were then transported to Oxford and assembled and installed in the prayer room.