Architects: Studio Zermani e Associati
Location: Arezzo, Province of Arezzo, Italy
Architect In Charge: Paolo Zermani
Design Team: Siro Veri, Mauro Alpini
Collaborators: Giovanna Maini, Tomohiro Takao
Photographs: Mauro Davoli
Sansepolcro, the halfway point between Santiago de Compostela and Jerusalem, and birthplace of Piero della Francesca, is surrounded by the hills on the border between Tuscany and Umbria that the painter transferred into his own pictorial space. Piero often observed the landscape from inside: for him, the background was important, as was the point of view. The extraordinary perspective application of his images imposes the relationship between eye, architecture or monument, and landscape with didactic clarity. The landscape of Sansepolcro is a place recognised as far back as the description given by Pliny: “Beautiful is the aspect of the region: you can imagine it as an immense amphitheatre, such that only nature is able to create.”
The new cemetery develops on a rectangular outline, incorporating the existing cemetery completely on the southern side, and partially on the northern side, through various additions, from the 1800s to the present.
The perimetral body, consisting of brick terracing, adapts to the altimetric trends that vary, from the east to the west side, by approximately ten linear metres, but takes the level of the summit of the wall back to a single elevation. From the outside, developing on the longest side for 150 linear metres, the cemetery thus appears to be a sort of base for the hills. From outside, one sees the base supporting the landscape, and from inside one can see the landscape and the cycle.
The large cross, a suspended walkway inside which the ashes are deposited, at the top faces onto the perimeter base, towards the city, introducing a precise urban pathway that indicates the new main entrance. With respect to the surrounding wall, the cross, empty except for the ossuary cells and situated higher up, almost dematerialises.