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Aussie Mosque Design Encourages Dialogue, Openness

MELBOURNE – A creative design for a new mosque with a glass front allowing people to see inside the prayer hall is currently under construction in a Melbourne suburb, in a bid to create a new Australian contemporary worshipping house.

“To go through a wall and a door becomes exclusive. I felt it was necessary for Islam to become much more open,” architect Glenn Murcutt told ABC News on Monday, August 8.

Avoiding the Middle Eastern style, Murcutt designed what he calls the first contemporary Australian mosque.

The mosque, under construction at Newport in Melbourne’s western suburbs, is due to be completed early next year.

The design was made according to recommendations from the community who wanted more openness and transparency.

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“They wanted to create a structure, a beautiful space that people can worship but also a space non-Muslims can come in and see what happens in this space,” local designer Hakan Elevli said.

Along with the glass front, the traditional features are replaced by colored glass lanterns, which will reflect different colored light into the prayer hall, depending on the time of day.

“During midday prayer you’ll get the green light coming through, the night prayer you’ll have the red light and the morning you’ll get the gold,” Elevli added.

Funded by the local Muslim community, it will include a library and restaurant.

The project won applauds from young Muslim youth who drove the change.

“We get questioned all the time about it but as soon as they see it, they walk in and see the beauty of the building, they understand,” builder Mohammed Haddara said.

The Muslim community hopes the transparent mosque will help to ease tensions in the wider community.

“This country has been made up of the beauty cultures have contributed to the nation — why would Islam not be another one of these contributors?” Murcutt asked.

“I think there’s no question there’s a real bigotry that’s terrible and embarrassing.”