Urban Sanctuary for the five senses

Location: New York, New York
Status: Concept 2019

Instructor: Brad Cloepfil

The project posits an architectural response to the crisis of ethics in the present world.
In search of the sense of sacred, the project intends to create a space of nowhere that perhaps is the most sacred of all.

Silence is the core to an empty room that is both intimate and grand within the city of endless distraction, New York City. Spaces nested within spaces that offers both distance and depth as a medium to approach the sacred, the intangible. An empty room serving as a sanctuary of the primary five senses of the human body which everyone shares regardless of their gender, race and religious beliefs.


Site Analysis / History

“Place for a new church”
The first act is to pick an urban site of my choice in New York City to consecrate. The rotary located on the exit of Holland Tunnel in Manhattan is selected. Site investigation reveals the rich historical use and background of the site.

1705 - 1866          “Trinity Church”
1867 - 1926          St. John’s Park Freight Depot
1927                        Empty land / truck yard
1960 - present    Holland Tunnel Exit Rotary


Urban Strategy / Clearing

Civic Room A sunken Sanctuary is proposed to ccupy the site to create an inner-space that isolates itself from the sprawling traffic. Access from surrounding traffic islands connects with different segments of the sanctuary through underground passageways.


Proposal / Masking / Layering

Plan / Inkjet + Charcoal

New Ground An elevated platform creates a new datum for public leisure. It generates a new spatial relationship between the pedestrian and traffic through a sectional transition. It shades the traffic from neighboring residence while a constellation of opening provides controlled light to the traffic below.



Section / Inkjet + charcoal
Five Senses
The purpose of the sanctuary is to elevate the primary five sense of the human body: touch, sound, scent, taste and sight. It is a public place of refuge and reflection that does not prioritize any religious beliefs or institution. It is a space of nowhere that heightens each of the five senses through careful attention of architectonics.



SIGHT: the Oculus
Inner SpaceSpaces are organized in a concentric order with each sense being assigned a particular ring. Space within space, each ring is spatially isolated from one another with unique material, lighting and programmatic quality that is specific to the senses it is intended to amplify.

All work copyright Jeremy Son
except when noted.