Text description provided by the architects. The Atrium of Holy Angels Mausoleum is located in one of Melbourne’s major urban cemeteries, Fawkner Memorial Park in Sydney Road Fawkner, which is managed by the Greater Metropolitan Cemeteries Trust. The Trust commissioned Harmer Architecture to design the mausoleum as a fourth stage to the nearby Holy Angels Mausoleum complex also designed by Harmer Architecture. The mausoleum provides above ground burial for 672 people within in situ concrete crypts which are arranged on top of each other on 6 levels and in eight separate blocks located around a central landscaped courtyard.
The new Atrium of Holy Angels Mausoleum encapsulates a centuries old tradition of arranging places for burial into a circle or ring. The mausoleum is designed to be open and accessible from eight different points of the compass and these axes provide dramatic framed landscape views from within the new central courtyard and from around the outside perimeter of the building into the central space. The mausoleum features an integrated colour palette using natural materials that give a comforting and welcoming atmosphere.
Architectural elements that integrate the building include the perforated stainless steel “curtains” that shelter the inner and outer galleries and also a solid timber lined ceiling and polished render feature walls to the main entry area. Memorial crypts are individualized using bands of contrasting coloured polished granite. Further choice of burial place is enhanced by crypts that either face the internal courtyard or look out to the surrounding cemetery landscape. The mausoleum design is strongly related to the Harmer Architecture designed Holy Angels Mausoleum nearby, and most particularly the rear section of the Chapel of St. Gabriel which also features a circular layout and internal courtyard.
The people who favour this type of burial, who are generally of Southern Italian descent, buy crypts “pre need” while they are still alive in preparation for their deaths. The crypts are mostly purchased by couples who want to be buried side by side. The Italian community therefore have a distinct cultural relationship to death and dying by planning for it in advance, preferring large Catholic funerals, and monuments of high quality with Italian stone and well finished concrete. The visitation rates of relatives to a deceased person is high and particularly during special times of the year that feature in the liturgical calendar of the church.
The Atrium of Holy Angels Mausoleum is therefore an active public space for relatives and visitors and also for the many hundreds of people who attend for interment ceremonies which usually follow on from a church funeral. The mausoleum is a place that many people visit to reflect upon and remember the lives of those who were close to them. Many people feel that although a loved one has died, their physical presence in an above ground crypt is real and comforting.