Restoration of a historically significant sacred place in Azerbaijan
Besh Barmag mountain is one of the most famous mountains in the Caucasus, and is known for the mythical stories about it. It is a sacred place, to which thousands of people travel for religious reasons, to celebrate Gurban bayramı and in search of healing powers. It is also popular with rock-climbers and birdwatchers. Unfortunately, the settlement has developed in a chaotic way, sanitary norms are not observed, rubbish is not collected and self-built sheds degrades the shared landscape. As the meeting place is in a small valley, mud often forms there and is a serious hindrance both to people and cars.
The basis of the idea behind the architecture is to emphasise this magical place and the splendour of nature. Consequently the solution is simple and harmonious. It is planned to involve creating a loop for water drainage around the settlement, and a retaining wall to organise and connect all the necessary functional zones: the car park, Gurbangah, the information centre, stands for drinking tea and toilet facilities. The retaining wall will improve the area by not allowing rubbish thrown on the ground to spread further into nature.
In order for the buildings, which are a spatial extension of the retaining wall, to blend into the landscape and not damage the view, they are constructed from local stone as single-storey units with green roofs. Rainwater collected from the drainage system will be used to water trees. The project is also intended to renovate the existing spring in order to guarantee clean and free drinking water for guests. In the central part of the field, where there is more moisture, it is planned to plant around a hundred wild pear trees. In the field there will also be an area intended for horse riding and a children’s playground.
Halfway between the settlement and the peak, it is planned to build a mosque, a place for praying. Showing respect to nature and the ancient holy place, the mosque will be created in an aesthetic and minimalist way, using local stone as a building material. For men and women there are intended to be similar prayer rooms (Namazgah), which from the outside are formed by stretched cubes (a reference to the Kaaba in Mecca), but inside are classic prayer rooms with cupola ceilings and niches. The space of the priest (Imam), as well as the areas for washing (wudu), are hidden in the landscape. The space around the cubes is laid out as a recessed courtyard, the perimeter of which is made up by steps and ramps, ensuring access to the surrounding area for people.