Apart from Mount Kinabalu and Orang Utans, this mosque is perhaps the most celebrated structural icon of the ‘Land Below the Wind’ also known as Sabah. The State Mosque of Sabah is located in the capital city of Kota Kinabalu, known for its unique ‘honeycomb cladding’ of its large onion-shaped dome flanked with smaller golden domes and a slender sculptural minaret. This mosque is the first modern mosque built in an East Malaysian state by the modernist architect, Dato’ (Dr.) Hj. Baharuddin Abu Kassim of Jurubena Bertiga International. He is best known for the design of the quintessential National Mosque in Kuala Lumpur that paved the architectural direction of many other great modern mosques and often used to describe the new modern Islamic architecture.
The mosque’s building is a modernist interpretation of Islamic architecture, expressed via a mixture of international style with an early postmodern inclusion of other previous architectural styles. The architect has imbued a traditional Islamic language such as its dome into a modern building so as to identify the mosque with a familiar image of a mosque. The mosque layout is based on an elongated hexagonal shape, tilted towards the qibla. The main building is indicated by the large bulbous dome which sits on the round drum, made of a ring beam and structural fins of the clerestory windows. It is then supported by six conical buttresses, allowing for a high glass window for ample natural lighting to illuminate the main prayer hall of the mosque.
The building is further reinforced by 16 buttresses on each side of the hexagonal-shaped building, surmounted by golden pointed domes. These buttresses not only function as a structural element but
were designed to project an architectural expression to the mosque both from the exterior and the interior of the main prayer hall. The ingenious hexagonal layout has created a vast and lavish area for the internal space planning. The ground floor is dedicated as a public area with a large multi-purpose hall. The first floor is where the main prayer hall is located and linked with the main staircase and other fire staircases inside the buttresses-like support columns. As with most of his other mosques, the modern-inspired built in mihrab and minbar are the signature of Dato’ Baharudin Abu Kassim’s mosque designs. Along with the buttresses of the main dome, the mihrab is moulded in a rectangular frame with a pointed arch at its center. The minbar is merely a modern interpretation of an elevated rostrum with an attached diagonal staircase behind the structure.