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Islamic Museum of Australia

Project: Islamic Museum of Australia

Client: IMA

Category: Community/Place Making

Time: 2013

Partially in the shell of a bottling warehouse backing onto the Merri Creek, The Museum brings together Islamic design principles and contemporary expression to welcome and create intrigue.

The Museum’s entry is enshrouded by a veil of rusted Corten that wraps around the exterior. It possesses many layers of meaning. It is a material that is iconically Australian, rugged, and weathered. The perforated pattern is a respectful reference to indigenous dot painting and tells the story of Muslims in Australia dating back to the peaceful contact between the Makassans and the First Australians.  The perforations allow filtered light to stream into the entry area where the pattern transcribes the movement of the sun onto the floor and wall surfaces. Interestingly, at night the process is inverted.

The veil is set against a pristine tiled prism delineated with a geometric pattern that is the flattened out geometric construction of a sphere - referencing the oneness of God, though its purity of form has been deliberately and respectfully rendered incomplete. The accompanying calligraphic text is an extract from the Qur’an which describes aptly and succinctly the mission of The Museum - “In the Name of God the Most Merciful the Most Beneficent, and so narrate to them the stories so that upon them they may reflect.”

The Museum is a place that challenges rather than beckons the visitor to enter through negative spaces. Changes in direction emphasise the need to reorientate, as if to say, “look at what is to come from a different viewpoint”. This theme resonates throughout The Museum: darkened thresholds leading to lit spaces, bridges - actual and metaphoric, lines of sight that do not correspond with pathways and doorways that are spaces between creased walls - all designed to maintain a gradual unravelling - even the way in is not the way out.

The museum serves its purpose as a positive dispeller of stereotypes and as a promoter of cultural awareness and understanding. The architectural expression is simply in line with this mission.

Photography by Christian Pearson

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