Text description provided by the architects. A new funeral hall is placed in the cemetery grounds at the edge of the town of Valašské Meziříčí. The architectural competition took place in spring 2014 with about 60 participants. The task was to design a new building of a funeral hall for 200 people along with columbaria, scattering garden, and adaptation of space of the main cemetery entrance. Our winning project covered all the required elements into the one composed unit – ceremonial district.
This ceremonial district is a clearly defined space element with a strong symbolic importance. A ritual meaning of the place is accented by an ascending axis symbolizing the last journey. This path is lined by trees and divided regularly – as well as the human life – by the regularly set stairs. The axis continues to the auditorium of the funeral hall and here highlighted by an outstripped skylight culminates in a catafalque space with a coffin.
THE FUNERAL HALL
The funeral hall building is single-story with a markedly outstripped volume of the skylight in the axis of the last journey. The skylight is the central element of the composition of both exterior and interior space. Furthermore, its volume hides the roof endings of technical equipment. Funeral guests enter through substantial entrance door into a cross situated foyer and then into the main hall – auditorium. The course of the last journey is highlighted by the outstripped skylight in the foyer and, most importantly, in the auditorium. In the very end of the axis, an apsis of the catafalque with the coffin is situated. A typology of the auditorium is based on a traditional arrangement of a triple-aisle space with the pews by sides and a passage in the middle.
This composition allows different types of ceremonies to be held – for example, a worship service and carrying the coffin out as the part of the ceremony. The privacy of the auditorium is disrupted by the side visual connection with a mourning atrium. The atrium serves as a dignified transition into the ordinary days – a funeral guests' exit and access to the scattering garden, which is placed in the slope above the funeral hall. A calm atmosphere of the atrium is emphasized by a slow flow of the water in Fountain of Life in the middle of the space. The funeral hall working specification is reflected in a solution of the technical equipment. The hall is ventilated and heated by a combination of the systems (floor heating and air-air heat pump). The air from the outstripped part of the interior is taken and used for a regenerative brake.
The interior design of the auditorium is meant as a symbolic contrary of two worlds – the world around us and the other world – elsewhere, further, higher. A dark-grey floor and wall cladding in the lower level of the hall is in contrast with an abstract white ceiling and the light incoming from the outstripped axis of the skylight. This scene changes at the end of the ceremony. A vertical curtain goes down and hides the apsis with the catafalque. Roller blinds outside the big side windows open. Incoming daylight invites funeral guests to return slowly to ordinary lives.