UDG builds a chapel in Sanya celebrating the natural landscape

Sanya, China,

Churches & Cemeteries,


Dysis Chapel of Poly Shallow Sea, by Shanghai United Design Group Co., Ltd., known as UDG, faces Yazhou Bay, south of Hainan, opening onto the South China Sea and embracing the magic of its sunsets. The architecture of the classic symmetrical construction based on the triangle and the circle offers moments of great spirituality in connection with the natural beauty of the site.

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UDG builds a chapel in Sanya celebrating the natural landscape
We all realise that nature and spirituality are closely connected, and in fact various religious traditions have always recognised that truly protecting nature is only possible if we recognise the metaphysical and spiritual dimension of the world.
Indeed, places of worship may frequently be found in panoramic positions where the faithful are encouraged to interact with nature, as is the case of Poly Shallow Sea in Sanya, on Yazhou Bay on the South China Sea. The Yanzhou Bay community is surrounded by panoramic spots such as Fairyland and South Mountain, and built on a fantastic site by the sea with amazing sunset views. The location has inspired the creation of a local cultural brand, "Legendary Yazhou, Romantic Paradise”. This is the background behind Dysis Chapel of Poly Shallow Sea, an integral part of a wider-ranging plan for enhancement of the area, combining local cultural elements with the outstanding resources of the place’s natural landscape.
Appointed by Poly (Hainan) Tourism Development, the Chinese studio Shanghai United Design Group or UDG created a construction in one of these inspiring locations, consisting of a triangular volume reaching up to the sky and a rotating circle on the ground, symbol of eternal life and of God. All while avoiding all formal references to the symbolism of Christianity, such as the cross, in order to offer a place of worship for everyone, designed to be the “chapel of a love-themed cultural town used to host weddings, and a popular destination for lovers.” 
According to the architects, the simple but convincing triangular structure of the project “pierces the sky with strong spirituality, like an eternal monument between the sea and sky. Sunset light shines through the central gap of the structure, materialising the perception of time. The rotating device orients towards the position of the setting sun all year round, vividly implying that the moment is eternity.”
The circle is divided into two pools of different heights, with a sort of curtain of water between them. Curved ramps on either side of the pools open up a view of the sky and the sea through the gaps in the water courtyard walls, where the gurgling of the water symbolises the dialogue between time, space and people. Shade becomes a vital element of the chapel, and light enters through narrow gaps, revealing the vast, mysterious world of tides, sea breezes, sun, moon and stars.
First of all, UDG designed the chapel to frame the sunset on Valentine’s Day, February 14, which was to be the only day of the year in which the opening in the chapel was aligned with the setting sun. But why limit such an experience to a single day? The architects added a rotating platform to the final plan to allow the chapel to be turned to align it with the sun.
The final result is a sacred building that picks up on the essential symbols of the cultural history of the human race to put users in harmony with the natural spectacle of the sun setting over the sea and recreate our lost harmony with nature.

Christiane Bürklein

Project: Shanghai United Design Group Co., Ltd (www.udg.com.cn)
Landscape Design: GVL International Group
Interior Design: ENJOY DESIGN
Location: Yazhou Bay, Yacheng District, Sanya, Hainan
Year: 2020
Images: Shen Zhonghai


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