Islamic Cultural Center – Yusuf Onder – Academy of Art University San Francisco

As we move into the future the culture of religion and its place within the fabric of modern society has been greatly tossed around.  How does a religion open its doors to outsiders, and become more of a cultural center to educate rather than a polarized entity within the fabric of our cities and towns?  Yusuf Onder’s thesis encapsulates these notions with his design of an Islamic Cultural Center within the city streets of San Francisco.  Check it out after the jump!

SCHOOL:  Academy of Art University San Francisco

STUDENT: Yusuf Onder

COURSE:  Final Thesis Project

YEAR: Fall 2011

“My mission is to design an Islamic Cultural Center in San Francisco. The main purpose is to design a multifunctional complex for people with an interest in knowing about Islam during the time of the Ottoman Empire.

The Ottoman Empire was the last big Islamic Empire and one of the most powerful during the Islamic era up until recent times. The building will serve as a hub for social activities and will portray Islam as a strong cultural influence during the Ottoman Empire, especially, in an artistic sense.

The building will have a library, museum, cafe, and a space for prayers and lectures about Islam and its culture. Another goal is to offer people a place to learn and understand about this unique, hybrid of, culture and religion and it’s place in the Ottoman Empire in a hope to diffuse the sense of xenophobia towards the religion and culture.

Islamic aniconism is the term used to describe mordial dignity. The art of Islam is essentially a contemplative art, combined their penchant for geometry with existing traditions, creating a new and distinctive art. This art expresses the logic and order inherent in the religion’s vision of the universe. Islam is centered on Unity, and Unity is not expressible in terms of any image. Thus, Islamic art as a whole aims to create an ambience which helps man to realize his primordial dignity; it therefore avoids everything that could be an ‘idol’ even in a relative and provisional manner.

The concept is to connect geometry, continuity of patterns (algorithmic), with a dynamic/hybrid program (reminiscent of the culture san francisco); the light function that brings dynamic quality in Islamic architecture becomes the binding element for the two.”

Make sure to check out the rest of Yusuf’s work on his site @

F+ Original submitted by Yusuf Onder

All Text and Images by Yusuf Onder