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Inaugural Ramadan Pavilion Opens in the V&A’s Exhibition Road Courtyard

The V&A and Ramadan Tent Project present the Inaugural Ramadan Pavilion in the V&A’s Exhibition Road Courtyard!

The V&A in collaboration with the Ramadan Tent Project presents The Ramadan Pavilion 2023, a purpose-built architectural installation inspired by the holy month of Ramadan. Ramadan Pavilion 2023 - supported by The Diriyah Biennale Foundation - is designed by architect Shahed Saleem and will open in the Exhibition Road Courtyard at V&A South Kensington from 4 March 2023 until 1 May 2023. The pavilion is part of the annual Ramadan Festival, a series of events, performances and workshops curated and organised by the Ramadan Tent project.  

The aim of Ramadan Tent Project’s annual Ramadan Pavilion is to celebrate the lived experiences of Muslims across the UK and the globe during the holiest month of the Islamic calendar. To bring attention to the core values and traditions of Ramadan through architectural expression, experimentation and an associated public arts programme, as part of the annual Ramadan Festival. The festival will also see the return of the UK’s largest community and flagship event in Ramadan, Open Iftar, with 30 events in 30 days across 10 cities, including two Open Iftar events at the V&A. 

Saleem’s design of the inaugural Ramadan Pavilion responds to the first mosque-like structure in Britain, built by architect Sir William Chambers at Kew Gardens in the 18th Century. His new installation evokes an abstracted mosque for the 21st century, just as the first purpose-built mosque at Kew Gardens represented an exoticised other to the European mind.  

The design of the Ramadan Pavilion draws inspiration to the V&A’s collection of prints and photographs of mosques and other examples of Islamic architectural design, as well as the architecture of mosques in Britain since the 1960s. The brightly coloured pavilion will take the form of a modern mosque which showcases the dynamic history and evolution of the mosque in Britain and explores themes of worship, belonging and identity. The architecture of the mosque is recombined to create a hybrid composition of parts, held together by new and emerging notions of identity, history and belonging. The design reflects the way that British mosques have been built by their communities, where they reference various traditions of Islamic history through architectural symbols. 

Shahed Saleem, designer of The Ramadan Pavilion, said: 'The more I looked at mosques across the country the more I saw buildings which defied all notions of convention and taste, usually self-designed and built by highly marginalised and economically deprived communities. In this I saw great resilience, determination and inventiveness.'

The first event of the festival begins with the Welcome Ramadan Conference on Sunday 5 March at
the V&A, inviting keynote speakers, scholars, experts, community organisations and the wider
public. The themes covered will include spirituality, charity and halal spending, faith and belonging,
and culture. The conference will also host the official opening of the inaugural Ramadan Pavilion on
a day celebrating the arrival of Ramadan and the c
ontributions made by Muslims during this blessed
month to wider British society.

Supported by The Diriyah Biennale Foundation
With additional support from COSARAF Charitable Foundation, the University of Westminster, RIBA, and AKT II