Basel Crematorium

  • Value: Undisclosed
  • Client: Kantons Basel-Stadt
  • Status: Competition

Our proposal is for a building which combines the modern technical requirements for cremation with an experience for a mourner that gives them an appropriate place to say farewell. The location and design of our proposed building respects the heritage protection of the “Friedhof am Hornli” and adds new landscaped areas that compliment the ritual of saying farewell.

The “Friedhof am Hornli” cemetery is well known for its multi-cultural ritual friendliness. This multi-cultural ritural friendliness of the Cemetery has been a focus for the design of the building and the surrounding landscape when considering the visitor experience.

Within our proposal we have created a sequence of spaces internal and external for families and friends saying farewell to the deceased. The sequence of visitor spaces are designed not to confluct with the working areas of the building and allow the visitor to extend the farewell ritual beyond the visitor space. The entrance area and the courtyard create an opportunity for families to gather before and after the Cremation. The working areas and technical areas have been designed in a compact plan and in section that connect the levels of the Tree Alley and Delivery Courtyard.

The entrance is orientated to the Tree Alley away from the Laying out building. Visitors approach the covered corner entrance down a gentle slope which leads to a covered area where a small group could gather before entering the building. The covered area connects directly to the visitor space which sits adjacent to the furnace room. From the visitor space there is a direct view through to the courtyard garden to the rear of the building.

The area for families to gather is defined by a timber lining which wraps around the furnace room. A large rooflight hangs within the space flooding the coffin area in front of the furnace with natural light coloured by the brass lining. Within the rooflight screens can be manipulated to control light around one coffin to create more personal experiences. Following the Cremation families can reunite with family members in the courtyard a private and quiet space for reflection. The courtyard is small and intimate creating a sense of calm. The space contains a reflecting pool with lilies and a long bench with the chimneys concealed as one large brass element. The walls are an extension of the mass concrete wall around the delivery courtyard and create privacy away from moving vehicles and other mourners. Families and friends can leave the courtyard through the extended landscape of the tree alley without reentering the building.

The building has a paired back palette of materials and tones that reflect the soft palette of the Chapel and Laying Out buildings. Pink terrazzo for floors and landscaped areas, fine grey aggregate concrete for walls with brass used to define the entrance, chimney and rooflight. The symmetry found in the existing entrance buildings is carried through to the Crematorium pavilion where each corner is defined in brass. Each corner has a different function and has openings to suit the visitor entrance, courtyard entrance, workers staircase and hoist. Where daylight is needed the brass is perforated and the perforation detail is carried through to the lining of the hanging rooflight internally filtering natural light into the furnace room and externally allowing a small amount of artifical light out creating a warm glow on late evenings and during winter months. Internally the external materials are carried through from outside in the visitor and working space areas with an oak lining with vertical detailing added to define the visitor space.

Basel_Model-05 Basel_Model-04 Basel_Entrance-01 Basel_Internal-02 Basel_Pond-03