[Ceremonial ground breaking of Salaam Centre by Ayatuallah Seyyid Fazel Milani]
There was a buzz in Harrow earlier this month; the Shia Ithna Asheri Community of Middlesex celebrated the groundbreaking ceremony of the Salaam Centre, a £12m community centre in the heart of North Harrow. The event attracted over 500 people from a range of backgrounds and included the Mayor of Harrow, local community leaders, local councillors, and a representative from the police.
Nizar Merali, one of the members behind the project team that has spearheaded this vision, spoke to The Muslim News about what inspired the Salaam Centre’s vision of openness and community cohesion.
“The Salaam Centre takes its inspiration from words of the son-in-law and cousin of Prophet Muhammad, Ali ibn Abi Talib, who stated: ‘People are of two kinds: either your brothers in faith or your equals in humanity.’ We wanted to create a centre that would imbibe that spirit and bring it to life. And for us, that meant creating a centre that was open to everyone and inviting for everyone.”
To complement this vision, the Centre promotes a holistic conception of human and social development, and the range of facilities it has on offer are testament to that. It boasts two state of the art gyms and a sports hall in a bid to promote physical wellbeing; a children’s play area to cater for family and social life; a theatre to foster artistic and creative talent, and a prayer hall to create a haven for spiritual upliftment and reflective contemplation.
It is also unique in its design and promises to transform the architectural landscape of Harrow. Designed by Mangera Yvars Architects, an international award winning design studio, the Salaam Centre combines modern architecture with traditional Islamic concepts to create an exciting fusion that is both unique and unobtrusively striking.
Central to the philosophy of the Centre is the concept of sustainability and the Salaam Centre plans to make extensive use of green technology in its day-to day operations. When built and fully functional, the Centre will be able to produce a quarter of its own energy requirements and will use less than half the water of that of a standard building of comparable size and use.
The January 19 groundbreaking ceremony marked the official start of construction, which is expected to take three years to complete. When the Centre opens, it will be the first of its kind in Harrow – the first religiously inspired, all inclusive, and open community space in Harrow.