A decade ago, the Australian Islamic Mission commissioned architect Angelo Candalepas of Sydney-based Candalepas Associates to design a new mosque for them. The stunning, elegant result of that is the Punchbowl Mosque, which won the Sulman Medal for Public Architecture in the Australian Institute of Architects' 2018 NSW Architecture Awards earlier this week.
The project's name refers to its location, the Sydney suburb of Punchbowl. Mostly made of concrete, the mosque is the first stage of a masterplan that will eventually include a complex of buildings for education and religious worship for the local Muslim community.
Fusing traditional elements with contemporary design, the mosque houses a single main prayer space that is topped with a stepped timber-lined dome and features a concrete ceiling with 99 dome-shaped relief carvings, which are a visual reference to the muqarnas ornamental vaulting style found in traditional Islamic architecture. The domes will be inscribed with the 99 names of God in gold calligraphy.
The domed ceiling is punctured with skylights that illuminate the space with natural daylight, as the sun moves across the sky from dawn to dusk. A profiled concrete ring beam provides a transition between the main prayer space and the timber lined dome above.
The prayer space extends above to a mezzanine floor where the women's worship galleries are located, at the heart of the mosque. Timber screens provide a visual break between the female and male worshippers. With this arrangement, “[t]he women are right at the center of the dome so they're, in a way, placed in a more powerful position than the men who are below them,” Angelo Candalepas said in an Architecture AU article last year.
In designing the Punchbowl Mosque, Candalepas explains in a Sydney Architecture Festival video that his firm aimed to “take the middle ground” by perceiving “elements of the past as being relevant as the elements of the future.”
All photos courtesy 2018 NSW Architecture Awards.
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