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Korie Krake
October 23, 2016
Case Study 3 (Materials)
There are several important materials that help to make up the Al-Rifa’I mosque in Cairo, Egypt.
These materials help this building link to a time and place. Not only do the materials help to keep the
building be strong structurally, they give the building an ascetic appeal and create unity.
There are four main materials that make up the Al-Rifa’I mosque. These materials are stone,
metal, wood, and fabric. The materials help to create elements and principles of design. The more
prominent elements and principles are unity, pattern, shape, emphasis and line. On the interior of the
building, there are many decorative stone cutouts. The colored stone shapes create patterns on the walls,
floors, and ceiling. They are very intricate, make detailed designs, and unify the space. Pattern can also be
found in the metal work on the doors of the mosque. They are very detailed and create points of emphasis.
There are also panels of woodwork in some parts of the mosque. They are another good example of
pattern and shape. Metal can be found in the light fixtures suspended from the ceiling. The cables that
connect them to the ceiling form lines. Lastly, the carpet fabrics in the mosque have patterns and shapes
in them. They also provide texture. The scale of these materials differs. Stone is used in a much larger
scale while metal, wood, and fabric are used much more sparingly. The large use of stone shows
permanence and stability. The building was obviously built to last a long time. This has been proven by
the mosque’s excellent condition even today.
The mosque was constructed in 1869. During this time a lot of the technology used to build today
was not around (Materials like synthetics and plastics were not really used during the time). Because of
this, the mosque was built with materials found close by. The mosque is primarily built from stone blocks
since stone was very prominent in the area. Building technology was also not as advanced as it is now.
There were not a lot of power tools. Although there were tools used, a lot of the materials had to be cut by
The designer might have chosen these materials for cultural reasons. The outside of the mosque is
primarily made of stone. This was not only because stone was easy to access in the area, it was also
because it harmonized with the buildings around it. It ties in with the other building in Cairo. On the
interior of the building finer materials are used. The intricate designs of stone, wood, metal, and fabric
show wealth and importance. These materials strike awe and draw people into the building. The materials
show that this is a significant place to be and is of greater importance that the buildings around it.
The materials reflect the cultural, political, and social occurrences of the time. The mosque was a
very important part of the culture. It was a place of reverence and significance. This significance was
reflected in the important and rare materials used in the interior spaces. There are a few places in the
mosque that are inlayed with wood and rare stones. There were also nineteen different types of marble
used from 7 different countries (although the outside stone was used in local stone, the stone from other
countries in the inside reinforces the importance of the space). The materials showed political power
because they showed off the wealth of the country and they showed social occurrences because the
materials made the mosque a focal point in the city. This would draw in people and create social
The materials of the Al-Rifa’I mosque have a big impact on the space and influence the
experiences of the people who walk inside the building. The outside of the building is constructed mostly
from plain stone. Besides its large scale, it is not very different from the buildings around it. Its materials
harmonize with the rest of the city. However, the interior is a lot different. The space is more
extraordinary and extravagant. It is meant to stand out and give people a feeling of awe. The space is
meant to be special and distinctive.
Overall, the materials of the Al-Rifa’I mosque in Cairo, Egypt are very important. They tell the
story of what time period the structure was built, what was important to the people of the time, and how
important the building actually was. The Al-Rifa’I was a very important building that is still very
influential in Egypt today.
Kamel, S. (n.d.). Refai Mosque. Retrieved October 23, 2016, from
Masjid al-Rifa'i | Archnet. (n.d.). Retrieved October 23, 2016, from
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