Sumit Singhal loves modern architecture. He comes from a family of builders who have built more than 20 projects in the last ten years near Delhi in India. He has recently started writing about the architectural projects that catch his imagination.
Vestfold Crematorium in Sandefjord, Norway by PUSHAK
April 30th, 2011 by Sumit Singhal
The architecture of this new crematorium seeks to meet both the functional and emotional needs of cremations. This involves creating spaces with dignity for relatives who choose to follow the deceased until the cremation. It also means creating spaces of dignity for the staff that confirms the importance of their work. The crematorium has a relatively high degree of transparency and visibility, to create a good workspace and to make the crematorium a reference for the people in the region.
A balance between dignity, calmness and visibility is sought maintained on a site with high noise exposure due to its closeness to a highway. A beautiful beech forest is fringing the site to the south. The building’s location along the forest boundary forms an outdoor space sheltered from noise and visibility from the highway. The proximity to the forest gives peace and natural qualities to the access for relatives. There are large windows facing the forest in the rooms both for relatives and staff. The cremation space and the rooms for relatives have doors out to the forest where one can retreat and get some air.
The layout is organized into three main parts that reflect the different functions in the crematorium – rooms for relatives, rooms for staff and rooms for cremation. Virtually every room in the crematorium is accessible to the public. The rooms for cremation are meant to have the same degree of dignity and quality as the public spaces.
“The movement of the coffin”, how the coffins and urns moves from arrival to delivery, has been the basis for the spatial solutions. To have simple lines of movement is important to facilitate the daily work in the crematorium. There are two main lines – one for the chests that are followed by the funeral agents and one for the coffins followed by relatives- after the main ceremony is completed in a church or other ceremony space.
The roof pitches creates facades that are lowest towards the entrance area and rises to the highest point in the room for cremations. The intention is that the facades where the public arrives have a smaller scale, while the walls are exposed to the highway can be higher and more prominent. The ceiling also reflects the need for heights inside: the cremation room requires height for the ovens, in the rooms for relatives the high ceilings frames the ceremonies, while the rooms for staff have a more intimate size.
Crematoriums are workplaces, buildings with heat generating processes and public buildings, thus both the technical infrastructure and security demands are quite complex. The choice of a restricted and solid material palette has been important to meet these demands without compromising on architectural quality. Brick is moisture-regulating and low-emitting. Much exposed heavy materials provide reduced energy consumption for cooling. The large quantity of surplus heat from cooling of smoke in connection with cleansing is used for heating.