LocationTyne Cot Cemetery, 8980 Zonnebeke, Belgium
Text description provided by the architects. The reception infrastructure at Tyne Cot Cemetery -the largest Commonwealth cemetery in the world, built in 1927 by Sir Herbert Baker- is conceptually perceived as a subordinate pavilion, orientated by both physical and historical axes and surrounded by a sophisticated circuit for its visitors.
As a dynamic development of the original curved outer wall a cutout in the landscape embodies the approach of the pavillion. By the flanking rectilinear concrete wall -at the same height of the existing walls of the cemetery- an abstract spatial impression of a trench is created. The position of the visitors center is situated where the approach axis and an important additional historic axis in the landscape intersects.
The horizontal pavillion with minimum height holds a half sunken patio. The pure volume, built into a slope offers a framed panorama of the nearby church of Passchendaele, the military cemetery and the former battlefield.
By placing the building out of the content of the cemetery, the volume provides a relief from the old main entrance, allows direct access to the parking, creates an external perception of the original surrounding walls, and above all a complete experience approaching the entire cemetery itself. Not only respectful positioning and architectural language illustrate the modesty of the design.
The new circuit allows the masses to visit the cemetery in a serene way, without intervening with the fragile historical content.