325_Dan Whelan: Sanctuary for the Harrowed

Dan Whelan from Australia/Melbourne; “Dan is a design driven Graduate of Architecture, living and working in Melbourne. He is passionate about sustainable design and community building, believing that quality design should not only respect the surrounding environment but should be ever forward looking in its approach while remaining timeless. He believes architecture should not only be ascetically appealing and functional, but like art, make you feel something. With a strong skill-base in architectural design, documentation and visualization, he creates unique designs challenging the status quo.”


Website: http://danwhelanarchitecture.com

University: RMIT University | Melbourne | Australia

Instagram Username: @danwhelanarchitecture


Name of Project: Sanctuary for the Harrowed

Project Description: Since the beginning of human existence, people have been crafting spaces to house the processes of life and the inevitable event of death. These spaces range from monumental to economical, and display a vast array of cultural indicators, such as status and religion. While extremely diverse across the globe and universally significant, this typology has experienced less evolution through the centuries as its primary purpose of housing the dead has gone unchanged.

Looking towards the future one question needs to be asked, what happens when there is no more room to house the dead? This problem is being faced by many of the major cities across the globe which are struggling to find space with a rapid increase in population. It is a problem that has put death on the map as a lucrative business.

Recently private developers in Tokyo have used temples as covers to build cemetery plots which are then sold for ten times the price of land without taxes. This practice results in the unwanted placement of cemeteries adjacent to homes in the extremely populated neighbourhoods of Tokyo.

In response, Sanctuary for the Harrowed is a man-made isle for housing the dead while being a place to uplift the spirit in times of torment. The proposal comes as a response to the desperate need for the city of Tokyo, along with many of the world’s major cities, to rethink how to design for the dead in times of rapid urbanization while creating pockets of biodiversity. Located half a kilometre south of Kasai Rinkai Park in Tokyo Harbour, landfill is used for most of the islands mass. A layer of topsoil and rock covers the island to allow the planting of a forest, each tree in memory of a life lost. Inspired by The Hundred Caves of Yoshimi, the single monolithic structure is used to house the dead during the mourning period while being a landmark and visual reminder to Tokyo City.

The inner gardens are encircled by the catacombs which provide the final resting place for the departed and create a buffer to the outside world. Within the site, architectural interventions are discovered to inspire reflection, a chance to look at the world and ponder a while upon it, to remember loved ones, honour them and reflect on one’s own short existence moving forward.