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St James Uniting Church Curtin: A Mediating Form

Part 1 Project 2003
Miriam Wallace
Andrew Casey
University of Canberra Canberra Australia
My aim in this project was to create a church building that would mediate between, and redefine the relationship between the congregation and community.

This involved recognising the difference in perspective between the community and congregation, arising from their different experiences of “Church”.

Using materials and form to create juxtaposing internal and external languages, I sought to represent the different perspectives of both parties in a way that would promote understanding and communication.

The use of translucent external walls and the layout of the internal spaces allow the users to control their passage and enclosure throughout the building. In this way I hoped to create a space was accessible and useful to both community and church congregation.

Miriam Wallace
Andrew Casey

Miriam’s design manipulates the program for a church around the local to generate an intense and engaging urban architecture.

The Uniting Church seeks contemporary relevance in society without orthodox doctrines. The brief envisaged a church occupying an accessible interactive position in the community. The vacant, elevated, sloping site lies at a nexus of commerce, parkland, transit and suburbia.

Miriam’s scheme sheds preconceptions of autonomous church typology. Instead, circumstantial realities – the roadway, shopping centre, suburban fabric – are accepted as essential terms of engagement. Miriam organises a collective pathway. Translucent walls echo the roadway, projecting internal movement onto a dynamic façade. Implied boundaries reach and invite lines of desire. Rooms hover as autonomous volumes – one feels these could be added or subtracted as needs change.

As the site falls, the construction acts as a datum to experience. One wall cranks with the road, and on separating, the worship space is suspended, piercing the membrane. The ground plane continues, reconnecting seamlessly with the parkland. The building draws, compresses, and releases urban space through a conduit of experience. Beginning and end are blurred.

Miriam’s work is a sensitive and skilful investigation of the boundaries of architecture and urbanity.


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