The Pearl Mosque in Lahore, completed in 1991, is located at the rear of a large hotel complex. It is intended for use by the hotel staff and guests. Its programme consists of a simple prayer room, ablution facilities, temporary imam quarters, a small library for religious texts, and restrooms. The owner left the architectural expression of the building up to the architect and was exceptionally receptive to the idea of breaking away from the traditional mosque semiotics (the minaret, the dome, and the minbar).
The mass of the building is very simple: a square volume with each side equivalent to about four times its height, with two small towers located at diagonally opposite corners. The two front sides of the square are carved out to create an arcade. The arcade on the north and east sides of the building acts as a buffer between the square plan of the prayer hall and the main grounds of the hotel. An open portico at the northeast corner of the arcade leads diagonally to the prayer hall. The north extension of the arcade around the prayer hall conceals the ablution area and the restrooms. The ablution area is accessed from the entrance portico, while the restrooms are accessed from the rear through a door in the tower. The auxiliary functions of ablution, restrooms, imam, and library rooms are concealed by a concrete block screen wall. The screen wall is placed between the columns of the arcade and does not disturb the rhythm of the arcade.
The 45° rotation of the floor pattern and the 1:2 ratio of the prayer rug created a rigid yet simple system of proportioning in the building. This proportioning system was carried into the elevations. The architects devised a concrete block screen wall system. This system is particularly reminiscent of the Mughal screen walls known locally as jali screens. Each screen wall is square in shape. Simple white pillars separate the screen segments. The building uses extremely simple modern elements. No attempt at traditional ornamentation was intended. The mosque had to maintain the modernist look of the original hotel.
Source: Aga Khan Trust for Culture