Learning about the built environment of a city is always the most thrilling part of my travels. We visited the Istiqial Mosque of Jarkarta, the largest religious building in the city. This is where the Indonesians leaders worship, as it is also the site of where foreign diplomats would come visit.
On the exterior, it is seemingly a brut, concrete building. It was constructed over the course of 17 years. Since completed in 1978, the building accommodates at least 50,000 people outside, and over 150,000 more in the interior. The building is massive, as it is composed of at least four levels. With wide halls and giant staircases, it moves their barefoot occupants safely and efficiently throughout the day of prayers.
The most impressive architectural features are the perforated screens throughout the building. I was always impressed with the contemporary architect Steven Holl, but these are just incredibly textured walls of the mosque. The majority of the walls are perforated for not only cooling and filtering the hot humid air, but also to allow the prayer echoes to resonate throughout the city. The prayers are led with an extensive microphone and audio system, and it beacons to all the worshipers the priorities of life.