Australian architect Glenn Murcutt released the first images of his latest creation, the Australian Islamic Centre in Melbourne, which features an unusual rooftop covered in lantern-like skylights. Murcutt, the 2002 Laureate of the Pritzker Architecture Prize, worked on the building’s design for more than a decade in collaboration with architect Hakan Elevli of the Melbourne-based firm Elevli Plus. Once the building is completed later this year, it will serve double-duty as a mosque and community center for the Islamic population of Newport, a suburb of Melbourne.
The mosque’s unique rooftop array is its most notable architectural feature, comprised of rows of prism-shaped skylights set with multi-colored panes. Daylight filters in through the roof, adding soft washes of light to the mosque’s interior in an unexpected way. When architecture meets sculpture in this way, buildings are elevated to high art, and Murcutt’s first mosque project in Melbourne is a prime example.
The National Gallery of Victoria is recognizing Murcutt’s artistry through a months long exhibit featuring his design of the Islamic center. The exhibit, entitled “Architecture of Faith,” opened earlier this month and will run through Feb. 19, 2017. On display are more than 200 sketches, plans, and photographs that illustrate the design process behind Murcutt’s mosque, as well as a model of the rooftop prisms.
Murcutt’s visionary design is an attempt to challenge traditional stereotypes about Melbourne’s Islamic population. “Over the last 10 years, it has been an extraordinary enlightenment for me,” he told reporters earlier this year. “I’m putting forward the idea that, we can in a society that is anti-Islam, we can produce some work that actually can bring Islam back into our community and becomes an addition to the culture.”
Images via Tobias Titz for Glenn Murcutt