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Sydney cathedral clinches top design prize

St Patrick's Cathedral in the western Sydney Diocese of Parramatta was last night announced winner of the prestigious Sir Zelman Cowen Award for Public Buildings.

This is the first time a place of worship has earned a Royal Australian Institute of Architects National Architecture Award.

Eight years ago the Cathedral was destroyed by an arsonist. It was subsequently rebuilt in what today's Sydney Morning Herald describes as a "daring new form".

The new St Patrick's Cathedral is the work of MGT Architects and Romaldo Giurgola, the 84-year old Italian-born architect who designed New Parliament House in Canberra. It retains the remnants of the old building as a chapel and includes an extension seating 800 people. Every member of the congregation faces a central altar made from a 12-tonne piece of granite.

The awards jury described the design as "masterfully handled in a restrained yet inventive way".

The Bishop of Parramatta, Kevin Manning, said the cathedral's modernity is symbolic.

"The church [design] is a challenge to people," he said. "It's giving a message to people that religion is not something that's back in the past."

Bishop Manning said St Patrick's congregation had doubled since the new cathedral had opened and the building was regularly visited by architecture students. "People are attracted to a very prayerful atmosphere," he said. "We're absolutely delighted with the result."

Born-again cathedral clinches top design prize (Sydney Morning Herald 29/10/04)

Royal Australian Institute of Architects | 2004 National Architecture Awards winners announced | Sir Zelman Cowen Award for Public Buildings | St Patrick's Cathedral, Parramatta
Dedication of rebuilt Parramatta cathedral (CathNews 1/12/03)
Diocese of Parramatta | New Cathedral rises from the ashes (Diocese of Parramatta)
Work to start on new cathedral (CathNews 12/7/02)
Guida Moseley Brown Architects

29 Oct 2004