The First Woman Known to Design a Mosque

Zeynep Fadillioglu is Turkey’s interior design star.

Şakirin Mosque in Istanbul

Turkey is home to more than 82,600 mosques and they’re all designed by men—except one, the Şakirin mosque in Istanbul, co-created by 59-year old Turkish interior designer Zeynep Fadillioglu, perhaps the first woman ever to design a mosque. The mosque, the exterior of which was designed by architect Husrev Tayla, features a 130-foot diameter dome and iron and glass facades. Fadillioglu’s interior designs of the mosque reveal a significant awareness of the women’s spaces—in the Şakirin mosque, the women’s section equals the men’s in both size and ornamentation. “I positioned them on the upper balcony, because during prayer the women must be behind the men," she told CNN. "But I also decided to make the balcony level one of the most beautiful areas, with the chandelier crystal droplets just in front, and where you can see the mihrab [an alcove pointing towards Mecca] from the best angle." Fadillioglu also enlisted the skills of other woman artists, like Nahide Buyukkaymakci, whose blown-glass rain drops hang from the chandelier at the Şakirin mosque.

Since the Şakirin mosque opened in 2009, she’s helmed two other mosque design projects in Qatar, produced designs for sites in London and New York, and designed her own furniture line. This week, Fadillioglu spoke with designboom about her design philosophy and legacy as the first woman to design a mosque in Turkey. She says:

“The founding stones of my approach to any project remain the same: timelessness, open-mindedness, love of color, layers of textures, and architectural features. My work reflects a modern understanding of traditional values. Using my hometown Istanbul as the main part of my inspiration, in my designs I am trying to combine eastern and western aesthetics and embrace the rich heritage of the Ottomans to produce works that have a local feel and a universal appeal.”

Fadillioglu also tells designboom that being the first woman to design a mosque has exposed her to harsh and often gendered criticism. “I was criticized by some Turkish people who believed that they could have done better, and I believe were jealous that this project wasn’t commissioned to them,” she says. “The praise came from worshipers from all over the country, international visitors and the press from all around the world. Today, the ‘Şakirin mosque’ belongs to the ‘must sees’ of Istanbul.”

Read the rest of the interview here.


In the category of "claims to fame nobody wants," the United States can now add "exporter of white supremacist ideology" to its repertoire. Super.

Russell Travers, acting director of the National Counterterrorism Center, made this claim in a briefing at The Washington Institute in Washington, D.C. "For almost two decades, the United States has pointed abroad at countries who are exporters of extreme Islamist ideology," Travers said. "We are now being seen as the exporter of white supremacist ideology. That's a reality with which we are going to have to deal."

Keep Reading Show less

Since the International Whaling Commission banned commercial whaling in 1986, whale populations have been steadily recovering. However, whales in the wild still face other dangers. In the summer of 2018, four Russian companies that supply aquariums with marine animals captured almost 100 beluga whales and killer whales (aka orcas). After a public outcry, those whales are swimming free as the last of the captive whales have been released, the first time this many captured whales have been released back into the wild.

In late 2018 and early 2019, a drone captured footage of 11 orcas and 87 beluga whales crammed into holding pens in the Srednyaya Bay. The so-called "whale jail" made headlines, and authorities began to investigate their potentially illegal capture.

Keep Reading Show less
The Planet

An anonymous White House official claims President Trump cruelly limited Hispanic immigrants in their new book, "A Warning."

The book, to be released on November 19, gives an alleged insider account of the Trump White House and paints a picture of the president as a chaotic man who lacks the mental and moral acumen required for the job.

The anonymous staffer says that Trump once feigned a Hispanic accent and made fun of women attempting to immigrate to the U.S.

Keep Reading Show less
via Gage Skidmore / Flickr

The 2020 election is a year away, but Donald Trump has some serious ground to cover if he doesn't want it to be a historical blowout.

A Washington Post- ABC News poll released Tuesday shows that Trump loses by double digits to the top Democratic contenders.

Vice President Joe Biden (56%-39%); Sen. Elizabeth Warren of Massachusetts (54%-39%); Sen. Bernie Sanders of Vermont (56%-39%); South Bend, Indiana, Mayor Pete Buttigieg (52%-41%); and Sen. Kamala Harris of California (52%-41%) all have big leads over the president.

Keep Reading Show less
Yad Vashem

Since 1992, the Jewish Foundation for the Righteous has been holding reunion ceremonies between Holocaust survivors and rescuers once a year. But the tradition is coming to an end, as many have died or are too frail to travel. What might be the last reunion of its kind took place when a 92-year-old woman met up with the two surviving family members that she helped hide during the Holocaust, and their descendants.

Sarah Yanai and Yossi Mor introduced Melpomeni Dina (nee Gianopoulou) to their almost 40 family members, all decedents of the Mordechai family, the family of seven that Dina and her two sisters hid during WWII. "There are no words to describe this feeling," Dina told the Jeruselum Post. "It is very emotional for us to be together again."

Keep Reading Show less