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Sydney Architecture Festival Unveils New 99-Domed Mosque

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A new mosque in Sydney's west will open to the public for the 11th annual Sydney Architecture Festival. 

Kicking off today, the focus for this year's festival is on building Sydney's architectural heritage, the protection of its Brutalist icons and the future of architecture in Western Sydney – with the growing hub in Parramatta, and the Candalepas-designed Mosque in Punchbowl.

The unveiling of the mosque, which is nearing completion, is particularly exciting for Western Sydney's architectural inheritance. Cast mostly in concrete, the Punchbowl Mosque will be unveiled Saturday, at a public open day including guided tours and a conversation between the architect, Angelos Candalepas, community leaders and researchers.

The mosque features 99 dome-shaped reliefs in the ceiling.
The mosque features 99 dome-shaped reliefs in the ceiling


Architects Candalepas Associates were commissioned by the Australian Islamic Mission for the mosque in Punchbowl nearly a decade ago.

“We’re inviting Sydney-siders to join the community of Sydney’s newest mosque to experience this modern concrete masterpiece," Sydney Architecture Festival director Tim Horton said.

"The Festival is also embracing Sydney’s love affair with concrete: not only as a Brutalist material, but as one that is found in every building we make. Concrete is timeless, lasts forever, and seems to never be out of fashion. Its use dates back to Roman times, and is an ancient material that even 3,500 years later defines ‘modern building’."

Interior of the Punchbowl mosque by Candalepas Associates.
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Architect Angelo Candalepas told Architecture AU that he was initially unsure about the commission, "It is an alluring sort of brief nowadays but 10 years ago it wasn’t that seductive,” he said.

"My view is that architecture should import a sense of observation of the world and I think that it’s important as an architect to keep the sense of history safe.

[There are] two ways of dealing with a design of a building with such traditional values — one is to understand those traditions and import them into the design, the other way is to do something completely new, something that hasn’t ever been seen before. I like to think that we [have] taken the middle ground."

From 30 September until 2 October, a free exhibition, Finding Sydney’s Missing Middle will be displayed at the Western Sydney University, revealing the new kind of homes we might see in the future as the city’s population grows.

In the next 20 years, Sydney will need to find a place for more than 1.7 million additional people, in more than 725,000 new homes. The Missing Middle is a series of architects’ responses to this future – with a focus on making the most of what our suburbs have to offer to get more Sydney-siders into better homes, more suited to our different lives in the unused spaces of suburbia where the population will grow the most.

The festival concludes on Monday 2 October with a celebration of World Architecture Day.

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