In the UK the Twitter the hashtag #thingsthatarenotmosques is trending because a member of the UK independence party press team suggested a poll about their credentials as a party of government was biased because it was taking place outside a mosque. The mosque turned out to be Westminster Cathedral. Given that our friends in the UKIP party seem particulary upset about Eastern European such as the Poles arriving in the UK, it might be apposite to post a story that my friend Lukasz Stanek told me about The Church of St. May Queen of Peace in Wroclaw. The Polish architect Wojciech Jarząbek and his team won a competition to design this new church in 1980. However, during the design and construction process (1980–94), Jarząbek travelled many times to Kuwait where he was also working on a large mall called the Al Othman Center. (See below)
The influence of this experience is legible not only in the way he quotes from his Kuwaiti projects in the exterior of the church but also in the interior, experienced by many inhabitants as “oriental” in character.
Indeed according to Łukasz on the completion of the Church of St. Mary Queen of Peace in Wroclaw, the Cardinal Gulbinowicz approached Jarazabek and said, “it is quite a nice mosque you have built for us.” This according to Łukasz is one of the moments when we see most clearly how architects in the former Eastern Bloc, particularly his native Poland, were influenced by their work in the Middle East and Africa and how it informedtheir practice in their home nation. His exhibition and book Postmodernism Is Almost All Right analysed the way in which during the 1970s and 1980s intellectual labour was one of Poland’s top exports. (There is a PDF of the really rather brilliant catalogue here.) Łukasz’s argument is that the experiences of working abroad changed the architecture of those working under state communism, creating a postmodernism; analogous to that which occurred in the west but from different origins.
That’s the problem with ideas, architectural or otherwise, they have no damn respect for borders.