Two people share victory in contest for Kazan Cathedral Mosque

The organisers of the competition don’t yet understand what will appear from two different projects

Two people share victory in contest for Kazan Cathedral Mosque
Photo: Maxim Platonov

This is obviously not the end yet: the announcement of winners of the international contest for the design of the Cathedral Mosque in the Kazan city administration created a new intrigue: how will two projects sharing first place be united? Ayvar Sattarov who calls the construction of the Cathedral Mosque is the author of the first project, one of the creators of the Qul Sharif Mosque. Ginsburg Architects architect bureau from Moscow that will have the first mosque in its history is the second winner. Realnoe Vremya’s correspondent witnessed the announcement of the contest winners.

“Our mosque must be like the recreated Kazan Cathedral”

The ceremony scheduled for 17.00 was postponed into 19.10. Though it was said first that the jury chose the winners (three places) as early as 6 July at a meeting in the Public Offices, but it seems something happened during these two hours. Because when three heroes of the evening — President Rustam Minnikhanov, Tatarstan State Adviser Mintimer Shaimiyev and Russian Minister of Construction, Housing and Public Utilities Irek Fayzullin — appeared in front of the public and honoured seven participants.

Minnikhanov assumed a part of hosts’ functions, Alexander Sanchez and Gulnaz Safarova, offering to separately applaud Irek Fayzullin (former minister of construction, architecture, housing and public utilities and main architect of the republic) calling him “the older brother”:

“Every work is unique. The number of places is limited,” the president noted. “If there are complaints, turn to the commission. I loved all your works and I offered to embody your ideas in other our mosques so that nobody is offended.”

He didn’t forget about religious tolerance either and added:

“Our mosque must be like the recreated Kazan Cathedral, we go in and feel happy. What’s there difference between Orthodox Christians and Muslims?

The project of Kazan State University of Architecture and Engineering that was out of competition got a special prize

“The formulation of the task became the real terms of reference”

The project of Kazan State University of Architecture and Engineering chaired by student Artyom Sidorov with a variation of the Qul Sharif got a special prize. By the way, Mufti of the Central Muslim Religious Directorate Talgat Tajuddin presented another work, the design of the Pentagon was obviously seen in his project.

OSTA company from Kazan with the most impressive minaret was third. Turkey’s HASSA with the impressive fantasy about classic Eastern mosques and Sreten Architecture Workshops (Moscow) whose mosque had the features of the White Mosque like in Bolgar shared second place.

Finally, two projects too turned out to be in first place. Ayvar Sattarov, one of the authors of the Qul Sharif Mosque, received the prize first. The Cathedral Mosque that is being built in Naberezhnye Chelny now is among his works.

As Sattarov explained, he has been dreaming of building such a mosque in Kazan since he competed in the contest of projects of the Qul Sharif. That’s to say, he has been dreaming for 26 years. He even posted his groundwork on the Net.

As Sattarov explained, he has been dreaming of building such a mosque in Kazan since he competed in the contest of projects of the Qul Sharif

“Besides the Qul Sharif, we have built more than ten mosques in Tatarstan, Bashkortostan, Kazakhstan,” the architect noted his accomplishments and admitted that he presented two projects at the competition. One of them was called the Tulip. But the other, Noah’s Arc won: “It is an arc everybody who want to survive survived. All living creatures, the arc that moves not only in space but also in time. And God’s grace will be in the place where this arc will stop.”

We should note that at first sight only Sattarov managed to personify the image of spacecraft falling to the water surface in the best way.

Ginsburg Architects with obvious homage to the Eastern pavilion architecture got first pace too. Judging by the diplomas, both first places receive 2,5 million rubles, second places do a million rubles, third place — 500,000.

Alexey Ginsburg admitted that entering the presentation hall he immediately decided that Sattarov’s project would win. In general he thanked the organisers more and claimed they know better how the project will develop further.

Ginsburg Architects with obvious homage to the Eastern pavilion architecture got first place too

“Making a place where people pray so that they feel comfortable, feel this is their place is a huge responsibility and task. We delved into this whole-heartedly and sincerely,” Ginsburg said. In the architectural environment, he is known as the representative of a professional dynasty: his grandfather Moisey is one of the leaders of constructivism, his father Vladimir worked at Giprosport and Mosproyect-1. His son dealt with the restoration of the Narkomfin Building where his father lived.”

Also, Ginsburg noted that the absence of clear terms of reference (it was limited to several lines — a parcel of 8,2 ha, a prayer hall for 10,000 people, a religious educational centre, car park) rather helped them:

“We do half of projects without terms of reference because in such a task it was necessary to outline a vector. And it is impossible to know the number of rooms and metres. Though for instance, we didn’t know construction standards and regulations for mosques. But they won’t replace terms of reference. The formulation of the task became the real terms of reference.”

“The restive steed and timid deer must ne'er be harnessed to one cart”

Remaining alone with fewer journalists, Sattarov cited:

“The restive steed and timid deer must ne'er be harnessed to one cart,” and noted that Ginsburg has never built mosques and he doesn’t understand how they will operate later.

It should be reminded that it was announced the applications could be submitted on 1 April, 40 architects’ works participated in the competition, 18 reached the final. In May, the finalists participated in a seminar, they submitted proposals until 1 July. The first stone on the territory of the former Kyrlay amusement park was laid on 20 June, a day to the official holiday in honour of the adoption of Islam by Volga Bulgaria 1100 years ago.

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We cannot help but compare the course of the competition with the architectural contest for the project of the Kamal Theatre. Firstly, Ayvar Sattarov didn’t manage to make it to the number of applicants first — the problem was that legal entities and sole traders could submit applications (the architect passed on behalf a professional union in the end). Then he didn’t reach the final — the experts noted his portfolio didn’t have buildings resembling a theatre. However, Sattarov had a lot of mosques.

The theatre’s terms of reference was a huge book, one could watch the defence of projects on social media online. One thing is common for the two contests — an unexpected decision of the jury. In the case of the Kamal Theatre, not the project functionaries like won the project but the one the Tatar intelligentsia loved.

In answer to a question one of the jury members was asked about how they were going to unite two very different projects, he replied that “we will think about it tomorrow.” We can feel pity for Tatninvestgrazhdanproyect headed by Adel Khusnutdinov (Minnikhanov even deliberately asked him to stand up at the meeting so that the participants could see their future) and the Tatarstan Muslim Religious Directorate that will be responsible for “ideological issues.” The start of the construction of the mosque is due to start in autumn.

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Radif Kashapov. Photo: Maxim Platonov
Tatarstan