329_Dan Whelan: Song of the Sea

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: Song of the Sea


Project Description: The proposed chapel rests on the foundations of the restored Pessegueiro island fort - Portugal, its simple white brick form providing a clear focus point from the main coastline. The restored fort provides a space of transition between the natural landscape and the inner space of the chapel while providing panoramic views across the entire site. Within the chapel spaces are enclosed, intimate and spiritual in nature, inviting visitors to take a moment for introspection and quiet contemplation.

Without electricity, heating and running water the structure relies on natural ventilation and materials such as brick, stone and tiles to keep it cool during the summer and warm in the winter. The implementation of masonry materials allows the structure to withstand the weather extremities on such a remote site. The island is accessible only by foot or boat. A sunken bridge splits the ocean from the main coastline to the island. The upright walls create a buffer to the outside world, encouraging visitors to focus internally on their journey to the chapel.


Alluding to biblical references and metaphors, the island is connected back to the main coastline by a sunken bridge parting the ocean. The pathway under foot made entirely of stone from the old quarry, its walls clad in locally supplied marble. Beyond the walls the song of the sea calmly sings to each passing visitor.

Two vertical planes split the landscape creating a formal entry into the old quarry. The two vertical sheer blades read as razor thin elements and draw the eye inwards. Above, a marble clad tower rises towards the heavens, acting as both a location marker from below and a site lookout once climbed.

The main chapel features an earth-toned interior comprised of basic materials such as stone, brick and tiles, giving a sense of warmth and refuge to the space. Natural light floods into the interior space while remaining private with the use of full height frosted glazing. Simple granite pews are hand crafted from the old quarry stone sourced on site.

A simple concrete wall extends the length of the site to the north. Square re-entrants allow space for urns. Further north, square monolithic stones share like form to the existing quarried stone, providing further urn space, privacy and solitude.