The V&A, in collaboration with the Ramadan Tent Project, has unveiled The Ramadan Pavilion 2023, a purpose-built architectural installation inspired by the holy month of Ramadan. Ramadan Pavilion 2023 – supported by The Diriyah Biennale Foundation – is designed by architect Shahed Saleem and can be seen in the Exhibition Road Courtyard at V&A South Kensington until 1 May 2023. The pavilion is part of the annual Ramadan Festival, a series of events, performances and workshops curated and organised by the Ramadan Tent project.
The aim is to celebrate the lived experiences of Muslims across the UK and the globe during the holiest month of the Islamic calendar and to bring attention to the core values and traditions of Ramadan through architectural expression, experimentation and an associated public arts programme, as part of the annual Ramadan Festival.
Saleem’s design responds to the first mosque-like structure in Britain, built by architect Sir William Chambers at Kew Gardens in the 18th Century. His new installation evokes an abstracted mosque for the 21st century.
The brightly coloured pavilion takes the form of a modern mosque which showcases the dynamic history and evolution of the mosque in Britain and explores themes of worship, belonging and identity.
Saleem said: “The more I looked at mosques across the country the more I saw buildings which defied all notions of convention and taste, usually self-designed and built by highly marginalised and economically deprived communities. In this, I saw great resilience, determination and inventiveness. These communities were creating new architectural meanings by drawing from their own lived experience and according to their own rules. In my work I explore this formal vocabulary through sketches and experimental maquettes, and these have now come to fruition in the Ramadan Pavilion which embodies years of observation and exploration.