Located on the periphery of Dhaka in Bangladesh, the mosque, which cost$150,000, was funded entirely by private donations, and its flexible design allows the building to act as a school, meeting room and informal playground as well as a place of worship in an area where community facilities are notable by their absence.

"It’s a community mosque that is a space for contemplation and getting closer to God which is cooler, calmer and more comfortable, and it’s location is also interesting," explains Derakhshani.

"It isn’t in the city centre, it’s on the periphery, and the role and importance of these spaces – urban villages as they are sometimes known – is just starting to be recognised."

With no dome, minaret or mihrab, the building also stands in contrast to popular notions of what a mosque should look like.

"At the beginning of my design process I wanted to look deeper into the rich architectural legacy of Islam," says the mosque’s architect Marina Tabassum.

"Domes and minarets are symbolic gestures [and] symbols are not the essence of devotion or faith. At times they can detract from the main essence of Islam, which is about complete submission to one God omnipresent.

"To be in complete communion with God one needs a space that evokes a feeling of spirituality, a space where people can connect with the divine. I find symbols a distraction and I wanted to focus instead on the sense of spirituality."

A 12-year project, the Bait Ur Rouf mosque, or House of the Compassionate, was more than just another commission for Tabassum. Not only was the architect’s grandmother, Sufia Khatun, the client, but Khatun’s decision to donate land and money toward the mosque’s development was born of a tragedy that affected the whole family.

"My mother passed away in 2002, she was my grandmother’s eldest born, and then the next year she lost another child, my aunt, so she experienced two of her children passing away in two years," says Tabassum.

"She asked me to design it because I am an architect and she could also sense my suffering. In a way, designing the mosque became a kind of a healing process for both of us."

By 2005, Tabassum’s grandmother had become very ill, so the architect decided to hold a groundbreaking ceremony for the project even though there was only enough money to build its foundations.

The event took place in September 2006, but by the end of that year, Khatun was dead and Tabassum was left with sole responsibility for raising the funds that would allow the project to be completed, a process that took another six years.

"When we had a good sum of money and we could buy, say, five trucks of bricks or some bags of cement, then we went about doing the construction," the architect says.

"But you can’t really forecast when you are going to get some fund to keep it going. So, at times we had to stop construction for some months because there was no material to go on building."

In choosing to use local, handmade bricks, Tabassum used a vernacular material that looked back to a golden age of Bengali architecture, the Sultanate period of the 14th to 16th centuries, but also sought to keep construction and maintenance costs to a minimum, a factor that led to the exclusion of costly features such as extra storeys and air conditioning from the design.