21 Sep 2023
New and improved
After a devastating fire tore through the building in 2015, the administrative wing of the Baitul Futuh Mosque has reopened following a £20m refurbishment project
The Baitul Futuh Mosque is located in Morden, south London, and was originally built in 2003 by the Ahmadiyya Muslim Community, whose UK branch was established in 1913. With its first mosque in London opening in 1926 (The London Mosque in Southfields), today, the Ahmadiyya Muslim Community has over 147 branches across the UK, most notably the landmark Baitul Futuh Mosque, said to be the largest mosque in western Europe with the space to hold 13,000 worshippers.
On 26 September 2015, a fire destroyed around 50% of the ground floor of Baitul Futuh Mosque’s administration building, as well as parts of the first floor and roof. However, the mosque has recently celebrated its reopening following the completion of a new five-storey complex with two large multipurpose halls, offices and guest rooms. The reconstruction has provided the community with premises that are far superior and has been paid for entirely by members of the community. Renovations include the reworking of the façade with an ornate, geometric design. Hundreds of visitors, parliamentarians, diplomats, academics and representatives from numerous charities and faith communities attended a grand reopening earlier this year. The worldwide head and caliph of the Ahmadiyya Muslim Community, His Holiness Hazrat Mirza Masroor Ahmad, delivered a keynote speech addressing the importance of striving for peaceful settlements to global conflicts.
Fire damage in the Noor Hall
“The Ahmadiyya Muslim Community has been a valued client for a long time – we’ve been working with them for over 17 years,” explains Andrew Williamson, director at RG Jones. Founded in 1926, Ronald Godfrey Jones is one of the oldest sound companies in the UK and was chosen to design and fit the new installation into the refurbished building. “The previous installation in 2006 was struggling to deliver and being based locally in Wimbledon made it easy for us to work onsite to help resolve some of the issues.” Over the years before the fire, RG Jones had installed various updates to the main PA system as well as to some of the external function rooms and event spaces. The company specialises in large-scale live events, event production and permanent installations. This allowed it to design and futureproof the mosque’s installed system, while also providing for formal events and delivering the right solution for the annual gathering of the Ahmadiyya Muslim Community, Jalsa Salana, which caters for 35,000–40,000 people and is held at Oakland Farm in Alton, Hampshire.
Mercifully, the huge multipurpose hall, which is to the side of the main building, survived the blaze. While the Martin Audio O-Line system in the main hall was undamaged, RG Jones was tasked with supplying equipment for some of the peripheral rooms and spaces that have been rebuilt, alongside the parts of building that have been expanded with the new design. “It’s a large-scale system in there now,” continues Williamson. “Everything installed had to be linked into the PA system in the main multipurpose hall – multiple floors, multiple spaces and new event spaces.” Not only does the mosque hold daily prayers, the venue plays host to a wide variety of events, including conferences, weddings and educational seminars.
The grand reopening
The mosque opted to stick to the tried-and-tested O-Line system for the new and rebuilt spaces. “They were happy with the product and we knew it worked,” explains Robert Powell, project manager at RG Jones. “It also meant that they could easily move spare pieces of equipment from room to room, so we deployed O-Line again and it’s done a good job. Long lead times were eliminated because the building project was delayed because of Covid, so we had everything in stock at the point we were able to get onsite.”
In the new Nasir Hall on the ground floor, RG Jones installed a Martin Audio O-Line PA solution consisting of two L-R hangs of 12 cabinets. To ensure smooth consistent coverage, the design specified Martin Audio’s DISPLAY software with hard avoid capabilities and electronically adjustable coverage. The company also installed 12 Electro-Voice EVID C8.2HC ceiling loudspeakers to allow flexibility for various room configurations.
In the new Noor Hall on the first floor, RG Jones installed 28 Monism MNS-6A11CS-IP Dante ceiling loudspeakers. Having network-based loudspeakers allows the system to account for the various room configurations. All the general areas, corridors, WCs and offices are covered by 60 Yamaha VXC2FW ceiling loudspeakers, wired in groups. The external colonnade is covered by seven Yamaha VS6W wall-mounted loudspeakers and 12 Yamaha VXC2FW ceiling loudspeakers.
L-R hangs of 12 Martin Audio O-Line PA speakers in the Nasir Hall
The AV system uses Netgear M4300 AV switches distributed around the complex linked via multimode fibre. It consists of a Q-SYS 510i core paired with multiple Q-SYS QIO-ML4i network audio expanders to allow inputs into the system along with Yamaha and QSC amplification which are fed using Dante and Q-LAN protocols. Control of the system is achieved using Q-SYS touchscreen wall controllers and wireless control that makes use of a custom graphical user interface. Portable decoders and encoders can be moved around and plugged into wall sockets wherever they are needed.
“In the near future, there’s plans to install projectors and screens to tie in with the videowall in the new building,” continues Powell. “When the next phase of work takes place, the decoders and encoders will be placed in fixed positions along with relay screens and projectors in the overflow areas that are used when the main prayer hall in the mosque is full so that they can be used for daily and weekly prayers rather than just for special events.”
The video distribution around the complex is achieved using Visionary Solutions’ Duet2 encoders and decoders. These are deployed around the site using network ports to allow 4K UHD video-over-IP along with Dante audio to feed into the site-wide system and be routed accordingly. The new development is also linked to the original mosque system via the site-wide network to allow video and audio to be sent and received between the two buildings. To achieve this, RG Jones specified a Q-SYS I/O flex and Visionary Solutions’ Duet2 encoders and decoders.
Monism MNS-6A11CS-IP Dante ceiling speakers in the Noor Hall
At the time that the rebuild was being designed, RG Jones was involved with other large-scale projects, so it enlisted the help of Roland Hemming from RH Consulting, a company that RG Jones has been working alongside for over 20 years. “Roland designed the whole system so that whatever is happening in the main multipurpose can be relayed to all the areas in the mosque and in the new building, so it’s just one huge relay system,” continues Williamson. “But it also means that the different internal spaces can all be used independently as well.”
For this project, RH Consulting designed and specified the system, worked with the construction cabling team and the mosque IT team and provided all engineering drawings, and schematics. “Most of this was done by my colleague Richard Northwood,” explains Hemming. “I did all the budgeting and client management before the install itself started. We also carried out the Q-SYS programming and Richard also worked with the RG Jones team to commission the systems. (Richard was the first person in the UK to be Q-SYS qualified.) The designs were intended to be as flexible as possible as the areas could have many possible uses. We used an extensive IP infrastructure for video and audio connections, control screens and a fair number of PoE Dante loudspeakers. We also designed the system to expand, including cables to blanking plates to allow for additional control and connectivity options in the future.”
With further upgrade plans in the pipeline and some services already spilling out into the car park, it doesn’t sound like it will be long before RG Jones will be called back to Baitul Futuh Mosque again.