Architects: Schneider & Lengauer
Location: Hopfgarten in Defereggen, East Tyrol, Austria
Project Year: 2011
Photographs: Kurt Hoerbst
From the architect. Situated in the heart of the village, the cemetery of Hopfgarten in Defereggen is not only a place for mourning and farewell, but also one of daily encounters. For the expansion of the area and the construction of a wake room, the municipality initiated an invited peer review. Death and mortality should fill a symbolic place in the community, which would, at the same time, also provide a "worthy and intimate" framework for the farewell rituals of mourners, according to the demand of the municipal clients. Furthermore they wanted a harmonious integration of the wake room into the existing cemetery, which is arranged around the late-baroque church. A massive natural stone wall divides the cemetery from the street, while a covered arcade, with the chapel from the 1930s, closes the site to the north.
A ramp, surrounded by massive stone walls, leads to the newly built wake room on the paved church forecourt. One enters the wake room's interior space through a heavy, two-winged gate. The walls, panelled with larch wood, define the room and simple benches along the sides refer to the tradition of the peasant "parlour" as a place of sitting together and (large) family communication. Abundant natural light flows through the glazing in the upper part of all four walls. Mountains, forests and the sky give solace to the bereaved. Comforting rays of the morning sun fall into the room through the narrow window aperture on the eastern side. In dark winter months and at night, interior lighting built into the wood panelling provides luminance – thereby referencing the shape of a lighthouse: light for the final journey.
The wake room is a reinforced concrete structure with a facade of quarry stone masonry. Clamped into recesses in the walls are larch wood bars that bear the ridges and rafters for the surrounding wood structure inside. Block wall cladding covers the roof structure, while the traditional Alpine roof serves as roof skin.