Cambridge Central Mosque

The first ‘eco-mosque’ in Europe, representing a new landmark standard for spiritual centres across the world.

The Mill Road site includes a 1,000 capacity prayer hall, community kitchen and café, teaching rooms and two residential units, all surrounded by a cypress tree garden, that provides a rich, naturally-cooled microclimate within the harsh urban environment.

The building design and its integrated services minimise embodied and operational carbon emissions and achieve zero emissions on site.

The building form and fabric specification and the use of a series of bespoke glass oculi ensure that all spaces are bathed in natural light during daylight hours and benefit from natural ventilation throughout the year. The striking pre-fabricated modular timber construction of roof and walls helps to reduce the embodied carbon.

The building services and passive strategies were specifically designed to be efficient in all modes of operation, including short periods of intense use and long periods of relatively low-level occupancy. Air source heat pumps are used for underfloor heating/cooling which are coupled to an innovative system of direct hot water heating via thermal energy storage tanks. All systems are powered by low carbon/renewable electricity. The power produced by the on-site rooftop PVs is sufficient to cover all the hot water used in the building, all the cooling and 13% of the heating. In addition, rainwater is harvested for flushing WCs and irrigating the lush Mediterranean landscape, with storm water attenuated via a Sustainable Urban Drainage System [SUDS].

In the international Civic Trust Awards 2020, the project was both a main winner and recipient of the Special Award for Sustainability, presented to an exemplar project that demonstrates excellent sustainability credentials in terms of overall design parameters, material selection, construction methods and long-term energy consumption. It won the Best Culture & Leisure project in the British Construction Industry Awards 2019; the Sustainability and Engineering prize in the 2020 Cambridge Design and Construction Awards; and a number of Wood, Brick, Offsite and Structural awards. It is also currently shortlisted in the RIBA East 2020 Awards, which were postponed due to the pandemic.

When the Cambridge Central Mosque was crowned Community & Faith Project of the Year in the AJ Architecture Awards 2019, the judges praised the project’s sustainability, commenting, ‘There has been a totally coherent approach to all the environmental aspects of the building. This has been done in an intelligent and rigorous way.’

Cambridge Central Mosque has been nominated for the prestigious EU Mies van der Rohe Award 2022. It is one of 18 projects longlisted in the UK, among 449 works in 41 countries featured. The biennial award programme was extended by a year owing to the pandemic ceasing judging visits. 

In the news: See the cover story feature in the CIBSE Journal and a 4-minute video tour led by Director Mark Maidment.