Crematorion Zorgvlied | GROUP A

• June 22, 2010

The Netherlands-based GROUP A designs new building type for cremation – Crematorion Zorgvlied. It is the first Crematorion in the Netherlands, for Zorgvlied – the general cemetery of Amstelveen, situated in Amsterdam.

Cremation in a Crematorion emulates the experience associated with funerals. Its aim is to establish a new form for cremation, and to dispose of the efficient and business-like image often associated with crematoria.

GROUP A

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Crematorion Zorgvlied, rendering courtesy GROUP A

+ Project description courtesy of GROUP A

Dutch architects GROUP A are currently working on the design of the first Crematorion in the Netherlands, for Zorgvlied – the general cemetery of Amstelveen, situated in Amsterdam. The historic cemetery, largely created in the 19th century by landscape architect Zocher, wants to be an innovative player in Amsterdam. The new Crematorion therefore aims to meet the needs of various user groups with diverse cultural and religious backgrounds, in the present as well as in the future.

Unlike a regular crematorium, a Crematorion focusses on the actual burning of the body – in layout as well as internal organization-, and on the spiritual thoughts and experiences that are connected with this event. A Crematorion is a stand-alone building, separate from the auditorium, that houses a cremation furnace and a processing room. After the ceremony in the auditorium, the casket is led to the Crematorion in a procession. The next of kin get to choose whether they want to leave the casket in a special forecourt, or whether they want to enter it into the furnace themselves. The furnace’s opening is connected directly to the outside; people are standing underneath a canopy, but are not actually inside. Also, unlike a regular service at a crematorium, all invitees can be present at the moment the casket enters the furnace.

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Crematorion Zorgvlied, rendering courtesy GROUP A

In the Crematorion, the last part of the farewell ritual takes place, that which symbolises the “return of the deceased to the cosmos”.

Cremation in a Crematorion emulates the experience associated with funerals. Its aim is to establish a new form for cremation, and to dispose of the efficient and business-like image often associated with crematoria.

In GROUP A’s design, the routing through the historic cemetery, the journey of the deceased and of the next of kin, from the entrance to the auditorium and then on to the Crematorion, plays an important role. The route leads from the entrance along the oldest parts of the cemetery, and halts at the auditorium. After the service the procession continues its way, along a pathway underneath monumental trees, towards the edge of the cemetery. There, the trees open towards the water, and there the new Crematorion is situated. The entrance to the forecourt is located one meter higher than the surrounding terrain, which gives the last part of the route an ‘upwards’ direction.

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Crematorion Zorgvlied, rendering courtesy GROUP A

The building is embedded in the landscape. It consists of a canvas roof that allows light to fall through; it’s possible to illuminate the roof in different colours, according to the wishes of the next of kin. The shape of the roof, which is surrounded on three sides by the landscape, blends into the surrounding hill. A layer of natural stone is laid out between the roof and the surrounding earthen mound, creating a smooth transition.

The roof is oriented towards the sun; the roofs’ rotation is shaped by the difference between direction of the sunlight and the direction of the site. The opening in the top of the roof allows for sunlight to enter the interior, cascading down along a glass mosaic wall. This wall also functions as the separation between the forecourt and functional program of the Crematorion.

Final acceptance is planned for 2011.

+ Project credits / data

Architect: GROUP A
Project: Crematorion Zorgvlied
Location: Amsterdam, Netherlands

+ All images and drawings courtesy of GROUP A

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Category: Architecture, Culture

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