Vertical Order

New York-based Büro Koray Duman Architects has designed a new 100 000 square-foot cultural centre prototype to provide recreation, culinary, art, education, retail and office spaces. A research into historical cultural centres, as well as contemporary ones, provided the architects with the idea of a vertical public ‘landscape’ to create an open, transparent and welcoming space.

The public landscape wraps around the solid volume inside, carving out the necessary public volumes, including an auditorium, library and galleries and, thus creating a new kind of cultural centre.

Collaborating with the American Society for Muslim Advancement (ASMA), the cultural centre, named Cordoba House, or the Islamic Cultural Center, will facilitate the integration of American Muslims without compromising their religious identities. It will be the first Muslim-sponsored multi-faith community centre in New York City, promoting social justice and progressive change. Aiming to help encourage ‘inter-religious coexistence, and cultural exchange’. Since space was limited, the challenge was how to implement a civic experience in a vertical layout. The design proposes a glass curtain wall along the perimeter as a vertical public landscape that wraps around the solid, stacked volumes inside, carving out an auditorium, a library, and galleries. The prayer room and multipurpose hall, rotated toward Mecca, are located below ground level with double height space that is visible from the street.

Highlighting the necessity of such a project, the architects explain, ‘There are approximately 800 000 Muslims living in NYC. A majority of the gathering places for Muslims are Mosques that focuses on religion as practice, which does not leave enough room for developing religion as culture.’

For more about Cordoba House and other Büro Koray Duman projects visit

Photography Courtesy of Büro Koray Duman Architects