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Architecture Festival Unveils 99-Domed Mosque

Tuesday, October 3, 2017

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In the west end of Sydney, a new mosque has shouldered its way into the skyline, a structure that includes both Brutalist and religious elements in its design.

Architect Angelo Candalepas was originally commissioned by the Australian Islamic Mission almost a decade ago and was initially unsure of the commission because of his own Greek Orthodox faith. However, he had since received requests for other religious buildings, such as a Protestant church and a synagogue.

"Every one of them has to have space which is spiritual and non fashionable," he told the Sydney Morning Herald, "they aren't interested in shape but in things that should last."

Mosque Design

The mosque is made predominatately of concrete, and is situated at the west end of the complex that will eventually include a primary school at the space's boundary, leaving space for a central courtyard.

A minaret sits at the entrance to the building, and while normally serving as a place of prayer that dominates the skylines of more traditional mosques in the Middle East, Candalepas’s minaret serves to break down the building’s scale. The inclusion of partially open screens also contributes to the creation of a delicate facade.

What makes the dome truly unique, however, is its ceiling: it is studded with 99 dome-shaped relief carvings, each featuring a small opening facing the sky, an homage to the Muslim knowledge of navigational science by mimicking the night sky.

“We’ve placed that idea within the entire building,” Candalepas told Architecture AU. “Very small she-bolts that hold the concrete together are also skylights such that the building can be lit from the outside [like] a series of stars in the concrete.”

An unveiling of the mosque was a focal point of the 11th annual Sydney Architecture Festival, which held a "Meet the Aussie Mosque" tour on Saturday (Sept. 30).

Festival director Tim Horton told The Sydney Morning Herald that the mosque's design represented a new kind of mosque with its own Australian identity.

"This is a mosque but not as we know it," Horton said. "Driving past it would turn anyone's head. It's even more intriguing once you know its purpose and it's even more thrilling once you step inside and see a very ancient tradition of the dome and the arch used in a completely new way by Angelo and this will be unfinished, this is a contemporary concrete building.
"We are not saying that architecture can solve the world's problem by itself but we are saying sometimes we can bridge our differences at the end of the day by breaking bread, and loving a good building."
The four-day event also held guided tours throughout the city, and enabled festival-goers to learn about Sydney’s history of brutalist architecture through talks and workshops.


Tagged categories: Asia Pacific; Color + Design; Color + Design; Construction; Design build

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