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Image © Tessellate a+d

A cathedral for all time

The forthcoming 14th International Architecture Exhibition at Venice Biennale will feature 11 unrealised Australian architecture projects under the banner 'Augmented Australia 1914-2014'. Initiated during 2013, the event will see a host of unbuilt contemporary Australian buildings to accompany ten historical unrealised designs, which will be revealed at the exhibition opening during the Vernissage and the new Australian Pavilion by Denton Corker Marshall.

Green Magazine also states, Australia’s creative team for the Biennale, felix._Giles_Anderson+Goad, will bring these projects to life through three-dimensional augmented models, images, voiceovers and animations.

While the RMIT's University Sports Centre (Lyons) and the Carlton United Brewery Site (ARM Architecture) also make the final list of unrealised contemporary Melbourne-based projects, possibly the most intriguing is Melbourne architecture firm Tessellate a+d's design for a Docklands Hybrid Cathedral.

The architect on Hybrid Cathedral:

The Cathedral is a study into how the economics of housing, aged care and a business hotel can fund the creation of a new cathedral for the recently established Melbourne Docklands, while also funding the church’s ongoing social work.

Sited upon a man-made rise re-establishing Batman’s Hill, which was demolished in the 1860s, the cathedral reveals itself externally through the spiritually significant east and west façades while the north and south façades reference the detailing of apartment buildings in the local context.

The design is derived from a set of mathematical equations which within their parameters have the ability to mediate between the sacred geometry of past cathedrals and the diverse and disparate functions that inhabit this new one’s skin.

The cathedral’s structure and geometry can be distilled and communicated by a few lines within an equation. By being of the world of numbers, it can be internationally communicated without prejudice. It can then be easily recreated, altered, added to, subtracted from and influenced by whoever comes in contact with it, therefore breaking down or adding to the ownership and authorship of the design.

Tessellate a+d: 2014 Venice Biennale

Going by the lead image where 750 Collins Street was at construction, it seems the concept was devised early on in Docklands existence. What makes the Hybrid Cathedral intriguing is that it represented at the time (and still does) a theme completely foreign to the suburb on the CBD's doorstep. Apartments, parks and offices dominate the Docklands vista, with little by way of a mould-breaking structures that offer a completely different experience.

Drawing a parallel, the Sydney Opera House surely would have been considered quirky, unique and even uncomfortable within its surrounds when completed. I'm not comparing Hybrid Cathedral to the Opera House by way of looks, fame and recognition but by way of providing a unique and recognisable drawcard. Many readers would say the much vaunted yet never delivered landmark structure at Central Pier nearby was the opportunity that slipped by and fair enough.

Ultimately I see Hybrid Cathedral as a design like no other, and therein lies the appeal and want for Docklands to sport a design of its pedigree.

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