SYDNEY – A new mosque in Australia has been drawing attention for its bold design, created with 99 domes to attract and improve interfaith relations in the Sydney suburb of Punchbowl.
“The courtyard enables all people to embrace the use of the building,” Angelo Candalepas, the Greek Orthodox Christian architect behind the project, told CNN in a phone interview.
“The doors are absolutely directed to the street front, such that it will always have its doors open to the people.”
At a September event called “Meet the Aussie Mosque,” the unfinished building was opened to the public as part of the Sydney Architecture Festival.
As architects led tours of the mosque, members of Punchbowl’s Muslim community spoke to visitors about their faith and the fundraising drive behind the A$12 million ($9 million USD) project.
“We wanted to bring the great work of the modern mosque out in the open, and to normalize the building as a work of architecture,” said the festival’s director, Timothy Horton, in a phone interview.
“The Punchbowl mosque is a modern architectural masterpiece. It is set to be one of the new icons in Sydney’s west, one of the most culturally diverse and fastest growing parts of Australia.”
Horton believes that the mosque’s unique design challenges perceptions and ready-made opinion about how houses of worship should look.
“The outside has been totally reimagined,” he said.
“Gone is the central dome with four minarets planted like garden stakes at the corners. Candalepas’ mosque strings (together) smaller spaces, like washrooms, along the boundary while scooping light in as you would see in a high-end art gallery.”
For Australian Muslims, the mosque was designed to promote integration and demonstrate diversity.
“More than anything, (Newport’s Muslim community) wanted something Australian,” said designer Hakan Elevli, who collaborated with Pritzker Prize-winning Glenn Murcutt on the project.
“They wanted to show non-Muslims that a mosque can be something that relates to the Australian way of life.”