Contemporary architecture of Muslim countries, with Mandala Tours

In recent years, the countries of the Middle East and North Africa have emerged as spearheads of contemporary architecture, whose maximum exponent is often considered the ultra-futuristic and ‘impossible’ current of Saudi Arabia in the middle of the desert. However, in the trips that Mandala Tours organizes in other countries, we can take you to see buildings that have a markedly avant-garde character, with an author’s stamp, and that are already in operation. In this post we give you some of the many examples that can be part of our tailor-made circuits.

Morocco: infrastructure and culture

In Morocco, several contemporary architectural projects have already seen the light of day and promise to be regenerative elements of the surrounding urban space. One of them is the Grand Theater of Rabat, designed by the great Anglo-Iraqi architect Zaha Hadid. Although the author could not see it completed because of her later death, the result would have been to her liking, with a mega building of curved lines, open spaces, natural light creating light games and numerous nods to Arab architecture, such as the muqarnas domes.

Without leaving this country, another good example is the Kenitra train station, one of those that are part of the Moroccan high speed, known as Al Boraq. In this case, architects Silvio d’Ascia and Omar Kob bité designed a building in the form of a gigantic mashrabiya or latticework, a characteristic element of Arab culture.

Egypt: beyond the Pyramids

Although Egypt’s main attraction is its Pharaonic civilization and, therefore, its ancient architecture, visitors can also find pleasant surprises of a contemporary nature in this country. The largest concentration of state-of-the-art construction is undoubtedly in New Cairo, the country’s new administrative capital, some 45 km east of Cairo.

While it has temples inspired by mosques and traditional churches, above all stands out the Iconic Tower, which is the tallest skyscraper in Africa to date, at almost 394 meters high. The work of the Dar al-Handasah Shair & Partners team, it is inspired by symbols of Ancient Egypt, as it could not be otherwise. In particular, in the Shuty crown, double feathered and usually used in the representations of the god Amun.

Turkey: a field for experimentation

Another Muslim country where examples of contemporary architecture are abundant is Turkey. Istanbul is a good example of this, in line with the melting pot of cultures that has always been this city, traditional frontier between Europe and Asia. The Istanbul Modern (Museum of Modern Art), designed by the prestigious Italian architect Renzo Piano, is worth mentioning: its location, on the banks of the Bosphorus, and its building based on clean volumes, diaphanous spaces and elegant eaves and porches, are reminiscent of other projects of his, such as the Botín Center in Santander.

Although this is one of the most noteworthy projects, in reality many others have been carried out throughout the country that are no less interesting from an architectural point of view, such as the airports of Izmir and Ankara or the Folkart Tower, also in Izmir. But it is undoubtedly in Istanbul where the examples are most numerous, with mosques such as the amazing Sancaklar, by Emre Arolat, or the Küçük Çamlıca TV and Radio Tower, by Melike Altinisik.

These examples and many others can be stops on our tours of the Middle East and North Africa, including other destinations we have not mentioned such as Jordan, Oman or Dubai. And we can integrate them either to admire their constructions or for their own function, as they are often transport infrastructures or spaces for leisure and culture.

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