RIEHEN, Switzerland––Just outside of Basel is a place of mourning and reflection, but those who visit are also welcomed by a sensitive pale brick crematory the architects, Architekturbüro Garrigues Maurer, describe as “a multicultural place that reflects our being together before and after death.”
First completed during the 1930’s, Switzerland’s largest cemetery is characterized by geometrical walls and structures––quiet opportunities for devotion and meditation.
This urban layout gives consolation in form of rationality and clarity.
But it is the grey and creamy bricks that make up the new crematory, finished mid-2017, which help subordinate itself to these contemporary patterns.
It forms a background for both the landscape and the act of saying farewell. It creates a solemn experience, ecumenical and easily accessible to all.
From the architects via ArchDaily:
Following the main alley, the building appears as an independent volume in line with the existing mortuary building. A new entrance-court forms a mediating space between the existing and new structures. From there you enter an enclosed courtyard providing an intimate, semi-public space only available to the respective mourners allowing a slow approach to the final act. This sequence of spaces ending in the cremation room is followed by a volumetric development in height. The building rises step by step from the lowest level of the entrance to its highest part, the free-standing chimney. These movements guide the families by creating a succession of spaces that ends and starts with the buildings one big open window opening towards the sky.
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