Proposed ‘Sanctuary of The Deep’ – Interpretive Centre: A total submersive experience:

Final stage of development at the HMAS Sydney Memorial Geraldton

The addition of a circular’ inner sanctuary’  of exactly the same diameter as the Dome of Souls and the Pool of Remembrance, was inspired by the eerie images of the wreck of the Sydney, published by the Finding Sydney Foundation.


It is obvious that we and others, will never physically visit the Wreck, so we were inspired to create a visual, tactile experience which would, psychologically, approximate the reality of actually being there on the sea floor…  surrounded by these powerful, somber images, which are now available of the Sydney in her final resting place.  Modern technology has given us the ability to infuse these startling images into glass. Thus, the medium of glass becomes a perfect visual metaphor for water: the ultimate effect on the observer being the closest approximation of actually walking along the deep ocean floor amongst the debris field.

We feel certain that the experience of standing in that total glass-lined reflective space, including floor and ceiling, every surface shimmering silently with timeless images of the stricken Ship, bathed in a low, sombre blue-green glow, would impart an unforgettable experience to the visitor. We believe that this ‘Inner Sanctum of the Deep’ will be a unique experience for visitors and one that will provoke a profound emotional response, leading to a new level of appreciation and unique understanding of the actual reality of the HMAS Sydney II tragedy.

The use of images infused into glass and back-lit  subtly but dramatically, creates an extraordinary, almost 3D effect, and can in no way be compared visually and emotionally to these same images printed onto display boards. We have already developed this concept much further in order to dramatically increase the impact of, what would be we believe, a truly awesome experience. This development involves ‘faceting’ the glass sheets and ‘inclining’ them inwards from floor to ceiling. We are suggesting a floor ceiling height of 3.5 meters. We also realize that a circular viewing ‘platform’ will be needed, as actually walking on glass would be too dangerous. This would have a ‘gang-plank’ design ambiance appropriate to the ethos of the Sydney environment

The Entrance Circulating Lobby is based loosely upon the plan of the Bridge of the Sydney.  This area has still to be defined.  As one enters, to the left would be a Rest Area, again to be developed; and to the right, would be a significantly upgraded Toilet Block, designed to cater for the increased visitor numbers. All these would be designed in consultation with the Committee as practical ‘elements’ which need to be suitably set out according to perceived requirement.

The entire concept is an outline concept sketch only, but is designed, most importantly, to be visually integrated within the hillside, as one approaches to the Memorial, without affecting or compromising any of the essential sight lines.

It would contain all the support facilities necessary for a major National Memorial whose existence would not only function technically, but significantly raise the status and profile of the Memorial to the highest International standards.

Other than the specific ‘Sacred Sanctuary of the Deep’ inner chamber, which we regard as a special ‘Sacred Chamber of Contemplation’, we would like the general layout to be regarded as space or Interpretive Centre which can be utilised in a wide variety of ways, to be decided by the Committee; the City and other involved parties.

Our intention as designers is simply to provide the general layout as a blank canvas at this stage, which allows for a wide variety of uses, from basic functional aspects such as toilets, simple rest and restoration areas and a viewing platform out over Geraldton. This is all within the concept of using the symbolic ‘Bridge of the Ship’ Motif as the starting point, then embedding the entire facility into the hillside, underground, in a discreet and unobtrusive way, but which will allow for extensive use by the average of 300 visitors per day ( Memorial Tour Guides data ) and from 92 countries and be complimentary without affecting or intruding on the Memorial itself.

Original Concept

This was the original concept for the Pool of Remembrance and Sanctuary of the Deep combined as one design in 2008. This concept was abandoned for budgetary considerations and separated into two separate projects. The Pool of Remembrance was completed in 2011 and The Sanctuary of the Deep is still awaiting funding.

Joan Walsh-Smith & Charles Smith.
Oct 2011


Project Image Gallery

Please find below, the proposed design concepts of  the Proposed  ‘ Sanctuary of The Deep ‘.

( click thumbnails to start image  slide show )


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