1st of March 1928 The Roman Catholic Church was inaugurated in Mogadishu, 90 years on the Church has become one of the most controversial building in Mogadishu. For this we wanted to celebrate this recurrence with a special article about the cathedral, retracing what it looked like in the past and what role it could cover in the future. Our purpose is to preserve the identity and authenticity of such country through its architectural design. We want each iconic building of the past to be reinterpreted for a more coherent future design.

© Carlo Pedrini

The Mogadishu Cathedral was the central church of the diocese of Mogadishu, and it was dedicated to the SS. Virgin Consolata. Wanted by the Governor of Somalia C.M. Vecchi di Val Cismon after the approval the new general urban development of 1924, the construction took place from 1925 to 1928, and it was inaugurated 1st March 1928 during the visit of the king Umberto di Savoia. It was located in a central area close to the Governor’s Palace.

© Unknown 

It was designed by the Italian architect Vandone di Cortemilia (1862- 1937) in a Norman Gothic style based on the model of the Cathedral- Basilica of Cefalù of 1131, in Sicily (Italy). The main façade, covered in stone material, appeared majestic framed by two Norman towers on the sides both high 37,50 m. The plan of the cathedral is a Latin cross divided into a nave and two aisles separated by pillars.

© Carlo Pedrini

© Carlo Pedrini

© Carlo Pedrini

© Carlo Pedrini

© Unknown 

© Carlo Pedrini

The cathedral stopped to be used after the war broke out in 1991. Most of the building was destroyed in 2008: the tower bells and the roof are gone while the inner walls and the west façade are still recognisable.

© Seamus Murphy 

In 2013 the Diocese of Mogadishu, after the visit of the site, announced the reconstruction of the cathedral for the future.

© Osman Abshir

View Looking towards the Benadir Regional Administration © Ato

© Hidaya Osman

© Huda Hassan

We believe that this building has a great potential for future Mogadishu’s development. Hence why we think that it is vital to keep its traces.

It is the proof of how Somalia used to be a very tolerant country, where different cultures coexisted in absolute peace and this specific case, Catholicism did not seem intent to play a prevaricating role towards the Somalis’ accession to Islam. Maintaining the sign of this tolerance could represent a useful element in the future development.

The ruins of the cathedral could be used to develop the whole area into a civic landmark, space where it is possible to insert and increase new functions in the city. We propose to design a Museum in that area: The Mogadishu War Museum. The Church could be converted into part of the Museum. In this solution, The Church can be converted into a Museum, at the same time the church acts as work itself.

© Huda Hassan 

The new complex will be immersed in a new public park, a real city gateway. This public space can contribute to the community.

The Cathedral is located in a strategic spot within the urban fabric, so would be easily accessible from several points. Urban regeneration of that area would give back to the city a more diverse and vibrant neighbourhood. This new public space would contribute to the wellbeing of the community, becoming an essential attractive pole able to represent the right compromise of colonial history and its overcoming, but also to restore legitimate dignity to a building that many would like to disappear.

The War Museum could be much more than just a museum: it would be a real educational hub where people can learn about the history of Somalia. History is both interpretation of facts and memory. It is fundamental to let the youngest and future generations understand the importance of history to give them the right tools to think and act well in daily life. History belongs to all of us, and considering Somalia’s future development without taking into account its history means to transform us into orphans of the past.

© Somali Architecture 

 

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