Built to span the ages, religious buildings nevertheless offer definitive clues to wider architectural trends from their era. And with many cultures devoting considerable resources to their creation, churches, temples and mosques feature amongst the world's most impressive and permanent buildings.
The award-winning Fremantle Mausoleum has surprised and enthused locals since it opened just over a year ago, as much for its highly contemporary use of iconic religious symbolism as for the sleek, clean and modern lines that house it. Importantly, neither aspect has compromised the strong ambience of comfort, dignity and reverence within.
DesignInc architect Jennifer Moen, who was involved in the initial design stages, says the Metropolitan Cemeteries Board wanted a building to accommodate over 1000 crypts, that conveyed an enduring and profoundly religious presence in the Fremantle cemetery landscape.
"Initially, the client discussed their objectives in very traditional architectural vernacular, referring to the classical orders of the Roman Catholic faith," she says. "We were keen to pursue an idea that the building would be grounded in traditional materials, like concrete and marble, as well as the symbolism attached to that, such as the dome, pyramid and the crucifix. But we wanted to elaborate on those classical and timeless themes in a non-traditional way."
It took a leap of faith on the client's part, says Moen, to invest as much trust in the architects as they did.
"Our vision for the building was to express an abundance of spiritual allegory, as per the client's brief, without being literal."
The plan of the mausoleum does, though, pay homage to cruciform imagery in its cross-shaped layout. The dome and pyramid structures atop the two main crypt sanctuaries are sited on the upper west and east side of the building. Two external covered areas are located on the lower west and east side of the plan as congregation areas.