Opened in 2020, Slovenia’s Islamic Religious and Cultural Centre is a modern white cuboid near the centre of Ljubljana. The steel building hosts the country’s only mosque, as well as a kindergarten, school, library, events centre, restaurant and garden, underground car park, and a sports hall.
With a single minaret that rises to the same height as the building, as well as a light blue cupola built inside rather than outside the rectangular structure, the Religious and Cultural Centre is a fresh take on Islamic architecture. The cupola itself is made from transparent blue fabric, representing both the sky and the Kiswah, the cloth that covers the Ka’bah in Mecca, say architects Bevk Perović Arhitekti.
The designers also drew inspiration from Ljubljana’s 1960s Modernist regionalism, Slovenia’s classic architect Jože Plečnik, and Iran’s portable tent-mosques — as well small Bosnian settlements centred around mosques.
Indeed, Ljubljana’s Muslim community grew following Bosnian migration to Slovenia after the Second World War, and continued following the break-up of Yugoslavia and Slovenia’s accession to the EU. While Slovenia previously had another mosque in the country’s north, that building is no longer functional, and practising Muslims had been forced to use gyms for collective worship.
Built between 2015 and 2020 thanks to donations from Slovenia’s Muslim community and the state of Qatar, the building is one of the few public works to be built in Ljubljana over the past decade. The centre was also named ArchDaily’s Religious Building of the Year 2021.