a2o architecten, in partnership with artist Jan De Cock, has won a competition to design a crematorium in Lommel, Belgium. The goal of the project is to integrate the crematorium into the existing cemetery, which shares the site. The design is heavily symbolic and is based off of the idea of “the journey” of saying farewell to a loved one.
The design keeps the existing cemetery entrance as the main access to the site, while the new crematorium will branch off of the main axis. The design relies heavily on a procession through the site, which “takes the visitors to another world.” This path represents the idea that there is no way back, that death is a path to another chapter, and it aims to change the visitor’s perspective, while entering them into a state of humbleness.
While the cemetery shares no religious affiliation, as it lacks religious symbols, themes of nature provide a modest spiritual presence throughout the site. The new landscape design will be a “primordial landscape” while still achieving a balance between wooded areas, heathland, and an area of sand.
The crematorium itself is transparent and is interwoven into the landscape. The simple materials of brick, concrete and wood, allow for minimal care and can withstand the test of time. Paper-thin glass divides the exterior and interior. The overall aesthetic of the building is one of a ruin that was transformed into a crematorium.
The three main volumes include the crematorium building, the ceremonial building, and the catering building, which are all situated around a central sacred courtyard.