Basel Crematorium

This farewell journey integrates the forest and a monumental courtyard to evoke a powerfully spiritual spatial sequence.

Our competition proposal for Basel Crematorium—designed in collaboration with French architect Eric de Broche des Combes—expands the brief from a single, typically somber building into a poetic, multi-sensory spatial and emotional journey.

While the site is adjacent to an existing Renaissance-style garden, we started the architectural journey within the forest of Hörnli Cemetery. The new pathway traverses the forest interior and a sequence of reflective spaces, with the triptych of sculptural chimneys gradually revealing the crematorium’s presence. The forest provides a quiet, thoughtful setting for moments of solace and contemplation. Memories and emotions are allowed time to process while walking, as mourners explore different paths and spaces.

When mourners arrive at the crematorium, the building itself remains invisible as they journey down a spiral ramp to arrive at a monumental inner courtyard, the main entrance to the crematorium, and a mourning room. The room for final rest is inspired by a classical Roman cavum aedium, from which the deceased moves to the crematory. A discreetly appointed mourning room is top-lit with skylights and has views towards the light court or to a magnificent fire gate, allowing mourners to find their individual focus when saying farewell.

Crematoria are traditionally handled as functional, almost industrial parks. Our design goes beyond any known typology to truly support the human spirit. Timeless spaces and materials provide a sublime experience for mourners, so that this moment transcends the everyday and speaks to the eternal.

Basel, Switzerland
18,000 SF
Architecture, Interior Design
Project Team
Chad Oppenheim, Beat Huesler, Aleksandra Melion, Maria Suarez; In collaboration with Eric de Broche des Combes, Romain Leal, Sophie Cousin of Buro B-C, Paris
Image Credit
Buro B-C Paris

Basel Crematorium