Architects: Tatiana Bilbao
Location: San Luis Potosi, San Luis Potosi, Mexico
Arquitectos A Cargo: Tatiana Bilbao, David Vaner, Catia Bilbao
Design Team: Tatiana Bilbao, Guido Ebbert, Israel Alvarez, Michel Trejo, Thorsten Englert
Area: 2,160 sqm
Proyect Year: 2011
Photographs: Iwan Baan
Among all types of existing buildings, a funeral parlor is one of the most difficult to build for an architect due to its profound symbolic weight. Starting this project thinking of death as its main theme, made the concept of the project and the definition of the space to be determined by ideas such as limits, transitions, permanence and temporality, and how these lead to the idea of life ending.
Death is a fact impossible to define and a definitive fracture in the continuity; it is because of it that time, or our interpretation of it, ends. Death is represented in several ways according to different cultures around the world, and all of them share a deep respect, doubt, grief and fear around it. In our country death has overcome most of these feelings to become a major social event.
We started designing the chapel of rest, knowing that it must create an atmosphere of peace, calm and serenity; it should be an intimate place where people may stay, show their grievances. At the same time, this space should work as place for social gatherings, where sometimes the deceased goes to a second term. To achieve this objective we tried to separate the social areas from the chapel of rest, and we sought to integrate the gardens as an extension of the chapel. Each chapel has a room in the basement, with a direct private access so that the relatives may rest or clean themselves.
The whole building has two main functions; to prepare the bodies for their final homage and to house the social ritual dedicated to the death of a love one. For these reasons the functions are divided in two stories; a basement, which has all the services to prepare the deceased bodies for their final destiny and a public area at street level which connects the pergola central patio and the five chapels with the administrative spaces like offices, coffee shop, flower shop, nursery, restrooms and information areas.
The spatial result conjugates different moments, for it creates sensations through a natural light handling. The spaces are combined with transitory spaces to arouse the emotions but also to let the people go in peace. We chose the adequate vegetation to enable the comprehension of the site. Finally, we achieve the contrast of the living vegetation in a place to venerate death.