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BASEL CREMATORIUM

PROJECT TYPE
Architecture

SCOPE
17,976 SF Crematorium for Basel Historical Cemetery. Competition.

LOCATION
Basel, Switzerland

“Only in the forest did everything calm down in me, my soul became balanced and full of might.”
– Knut Hamsun –

The design takes one through a journey in a forest and a subsequent goodbye. The crematory cannot be perceived as a building as such. The place of farewell is distributed among several atmospheric areas, which allows those left behind to bid farewell to the deceased. It is a modest project, yet strong at the same time. The bereaved gather in the forest, which welcomes them solemnly and separates them from a busy world. Here they can follow the path in harmonious quietness to the massive chimneys protected by a canopy of trees. The thoughts accumulate while walking; more quiet comes with each step. Various paths lead to various farewell banks inviting the visitor to pause for a while. A place of quiet not only for surviving family members.

One path leads through the chimney plain to a monumental patio. The light court, closed in by light-colored marble, leads the bereaved down to the entrance level. The gaze is gently guided under the horizon to the mourning room, and the chimneys are visible in the background. Cavum aedium is a room for final rest before the bereaved move to the crematory. The gaze moves up to the treetops, which are framed by the courtyard’s clear, arcuated form. Perceiving the goodbyes is a direct, physical and corporeal experience. The surviving family members walk from the cavum aedium to the mourning room. Only the precisely cut skylights are providing light to the discreetly appointed mourning room. Their gaze directed either towards the bright light court or to the magnificent fire gate, mourners can find their individual form of saying farewell.

At the end of this singular ritual, the light court becomes a stately, atmospherically designed room for parting.


IMAGE CREDITS
Buro B-C , Paris

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