Hilltop Chapel

This project was built as part of MEDSMEeting of Design Students, during a two week period in August 2011 by a team of 18 students. This team was led by tutors Kieran Donnellan, Darragh Breathnach and Paul O’Brien. The concept for the pavilion involved the exploration of spatial concepts relating to religious typologies from the Western and Eastern cultures that have shaped Istanbul. This was in response to the event theme of ‘Bridging Cultures’. The name of the project is inspired by its origins in religious typologies, but the intention was simply to create a space that offers repose.

The pavilion occupies its site like a Greek temple, boldly situated on a prominent rock outcrop that allows it to be seen for miles along the local shoreline. Particular natural characteristics of the site, such as small cliffs and areas of thick wild grass, are used to best advantage in leading visitors on a journey around the pavilion, before gaining access. Upon reaching the entrance, the chapels’ rectangular form ceases to be the regular datum highlighting the irregularity of the surrounding landscape, and folds in upon itself to create an inviting portico.

The interior leaves Greek Classicism behind in favor of the intimacy of the Turkish Mosque typology. Just like the low horizontal datum, and soft ornate praying carpets of the Blue Mosque, the lower realm of the Chapel invites visitors to sit and relax, rewarding them with a stunning sea-view. Beams of sunlight from a roof light bathe the visitor as they move to take their seat. At this point one becomes aware of the meaning of the ring of baffles, as the slight views through them mimic that of looking through the wild grass beyond.