Architects: Haeahn Architecture
Project Year: 2012
Photographs: Park Young-chae
Project Area: 18,000 sqm
Site Area: 36,000 sqm
Client: Seoul Municipal Facilities Management Corporation
Secluded by mountain hills from a bustling highway gateway, Seoul Memorial Park rests in a serene valley area of the Woo-Myun Mountain on the outskirts of Seoul, South Korea. Seoul Memorial Park is a crematorium constructed in harmony with the natural terrain of the site, which previously lent calming scenic views to meditative passing-by hikers, and is now converted to a sanctuary for solemn rituals concluding life’s journeys.
Canvas for Land Art
To overcome the unwelcomed response from the community, this crematorium was sought to be a “non-erected” building. Instead, Seoul Memorial Park emerges as a form of “land art” sculpted into the existing topography with a flowing array of architectural forms and motifs. Concaved at the center of the Park, lies a courtyard encompassed by a series of ritual spaces devoted to separate functions. These spatial layers bordering the courtyard resonate from a distance with the surrounding mountain trails and ridges. The 2-storey high crematorium facility configured in the curvilinear belt along the courtyard has roof structures linked in the way flower petals pinwheel one another, punctuated by a reflective pool at the very heart of the courtyard.
Comfort in the Final Journey
Families in bereavement take the final journey of parting as they encircle the courtyard along a path reminiscent of spiritual spaces with vaulted ceilings and indirect lighting. Towards the cremation alcove, the ceiling rises drastically as a clearstory above a triforum. Upon completion of the path, a meandering garden comforts the bereft. As the water from the mountain flows down and gives life to the garden, one might be reminded of the transfiguration of sorrows in praise of the harmony in nature. The garden shimmers with sunlight, whispers with snowfalls, and dances with spring rains. Season by season, tranquility is discovered and the spirit is renewed. Just as nature was dissolved into a building to rest in the valley, Seoul Memorial Park was embodied in a piece of land art to celebrate life and transfigure sorrows.