They reconstruct the sound of the Islamic past of the Mosque of Córdoba

They reconstruct the sound of the Islamic past of the Mosque of Córdoba

A team from the Higher Technical School of Architecture of the University of Seville (US) has carried out a study in which they determine the variation of acoustic parameters, such as reverberation, clarity or the definition of the current Mosque Cathedral of Córdoba. To do this, they have used virtual simulation technologies.

Faced with the visual homogeneity of the interior of the Muslim mosque, the results obtained in this acoustic study confirm that the sound perception varies according to the areas.

This circumstance is due to the successive extensions that the temple has undergone throughout its history.

“The mosque founded by Abd al-Rahman I responds acoustically to Islamic liturgical requirements, providing a living space that favors its majesty. Subsequent extensions give a formal appearance of overlap to the pre-existing space. However, there are notable sound differences in the interior space. This, together with the increase in depth caused by the expansion of Abd al-Rahman II, supposes a reduction in the acoustic quality of the areas furthest from the qibla wall ”, explains Juan José Sendra, professor at the US and one of the the authors.

With the expansion of Al-Hakam II two acoustically juxtaposed mosques are obtained. The latest lateral enlargement of Al-Mansur, in which even the mihrab is off-center with respect to the new ensemble, acoustically decouples from the rest of the ensemble, with a clear degradation of the verbal message.

Adaptation of the Mosque of Córdoba as a cathedral

The Christian transformations of the mosque for its adaptation as a cathedral substantially modify the Muslim space. Thus, experts point out that currently the space of the cathedral mosque is “a complex architectural unit”, With a multiplicity of sound places, the result of all the spatial transformations that have occurred and different from that of the corresponding archetypal space, be it Muslim or Christian.

The research group has been working in this field of study for more than a decade. In recent years, two projects of the State R + D + i Plan on Spanish cathedrals, mainly Andalusian ones, stand out. There are several articles published, from different perspectives, that evaluate the sound of the cathedrals of Seville, Granada, Malaga, Córdoba and Jaén.

This research has had the collaboration of the Cordoba Cathedral Chapter and its architect, Gabriel Rebollo.

Bibliographic reference:

Rafael Suárez, Alicia Alonso, Juan J. Sendra. "Virtual acoustic environment reconstruction of the hypostyle mosque of Cordoba". Applied Acoustics, volume 140, (November, 2018) pages 214-224.

Image: Sean Pavone on Shutterstock

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