Australian Islamic Centre and MPavilion make list of world’s top cultural buildings

Two Australian buildings, both designed by Pritzker Prize laureates, have been named in Wallpaper magazine’s list of “top buildings that shaped culture in 2017.”

The Australian Islamic Centre by 2002 Pritzker laureate Glenn Murcutt and Elevli Plus Architects and the 2017 MPavilion by 2000 Pritzker laureate Rem Koolhaas and David Gianotten of the Office of Metropolitan Architecture (OMA) are among 48 cultural buildings around the world that made the list.

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Wallpaper says, “Here, we celebrate the best examples of the smartest new builds, canniest restorations and smoothest extensions that are upgrading the experience of life in our cities and communities across the globe.”

Glenn Murcutt in the Australian Islamic Centre.

Glenn Murcutt in the Australian Islamic Centre.

Image: Jesse Marlow/Fairfax Syndication

The Australian Islamic Centre, a mosque located in Newport in the western suburbs of Melbourne, establishes a new architecture language for Islamic architecture in a contemporary Australian context.

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The community-funded building is constructed from raw concrete formed in situ, with one wall extending out from the front of the building like a welcoming arm.

On the roof, 96 gold-painted lanterns funnel light into the spaces below, creating a tessellated pattern of yellow, red, green and blue triangular oculi in the ceiling. Odd numbers are significant in Islam, hence the field of three-sided lanterns.

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The colours represent different aspects of the Islamic faith: green for nature, yellow for paradise, red for boldness and strength and blue for the sky.

Writing for ArchitectureAU in November, architectural critic Philip Drew said, “The Australian Islamic Centre is so obviously a continuation of all Murcutt has done previously in creating building forms that identify with their place, that arise from it and are poetically inspired by the surrounding landscape. Invested in it. The outcome is undeniably Australian, a mosque that looks outwards, not inwards, that does not isolate itself from the outside, as is often the case in the traditional walled mosque.”

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The 2017 MPavilion designed by Rem Koolhaas and David Gianotten.

The 2017 MPavilion designed by Rem Koolhaas and David Gianotten.

Image: Tim Burgess

Rem Koolhaas and David Gianotten’s MPavilion is the fourth iteration of the annual temporary pavilion in Melbourne’s Queen Victoria Gardens commissioned by the Naomi Milgrom Foundation. It is also the first project OMA has completed in Australia.

Inspired by ancient amphitheaters, the structure consists of two tiered grandstands – one of which is static while the other pivots on a fixed point. The grandstands form a circular space on the ground that is surrounded and embedded into the garden by a landscaped berm covered in indigenous plants.

A 19 by 19 metre square, gridded steel canopy clad in aluminium floats above the grandstands.

The pavilion is designed to be a forum for “critical debate.”

“We consider this pavilion a tool – a tool for [the public] to use to discuss the future of [their] city. But it’s also a tool and a framework for us to discover another culture and to be active in another culture,” Rem Koolhaas told ArchitectureAU on the occasion of the pavilion’s opening.

MPavilion will host series of talks, discussions and events until 4 February 2018. Over the Summer, this will involve several installations aimed at children, including a number of luminous swing sets, designed by OMA, that have been installed in the structure’s interior.

Other cultural buildings named in Wallpaper’s list include the 2017 Serpentine Pavilion by Burkina Faso’s Diébédo Francis Kéré; the Seoullo 7017 Skygarden by MVRDV and the Hastings Pier Regeneration by DRMM, which won the 2017 RIBA Stirling Prize. To view the full list, click here.

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