Statistically speaking, we are all dying. However, we live in a culture that’s so estranged from death that even the topic is something that’s avoided. Thinking about death and funerals is depressing and painful – and understandably so.
Luckily for us, there’s a new wave of architects interested in bettering our experiences around death. Increasingly, these architects are exploring the different ways in which design can be used to shape the future of death.
Ghent-based Coussée & Goris Architecten in collaboration with Spanish firm RCR Arquitectes re-designed death by giving life to the grave sites. Crematorium Hofheide is situated in the middle of a lake in Holsbeek, Belgium.
Crematorium Hofheide was announced as a winner in the religious buildings and memorials category at the 2016 Architizer A+Awards, which promote and celebrate the year's best architecture and products.
The pond around the Crematorium Hofheide also serves as part of the building's water management system. Rainwater is collected for use in the bathrooms, then processed by an on-site wastewater treatment plant, before passing into the pond.
The architects wanted to create a space that is as close to nature as possible and that enhances our sense of being a part of nature. The architects also say that they wanted a building that would not impose any belief or culture on mourners.
“Crematoriums tend to be too industrial. But death is a part of life. Once we leave the Earth we are still part of the universe, and architecture can help connect the two.” – Carme Pigem of RCR Arquitectes.
What’s remarkable about their design is not only the aesthetics but the multifunctionality. Crematorium Hofheide has more than just a service and coffin viewing area. It’s housed with two separate auditoriums, private family gathering rooms, a cafe for funeral meals and a reception area to name just a few.