The municipality of Patras in Greece launched a competition for the design of the Crematorium, a highly debated subject in the Orthodox Greek context. The winning scheme was imagined by architects Stelios Andrikopoulos, Konstantinos Grivas, and Alexandra Stratou.
Much anticipated and highly contested, this novelty in the Greek context, was facing at the same time an opposing church and a growing demand. The government of Patras decided, therefore, to launch a contest for the very first municipal Crematorium of the country, “marking the transition towards more diversified burial customs in contemporary Greek society and setting the architectural standards which support it”. The winning proposal is, in fact, an attempt “to address both the utilitarian and monumental character of the crematorium, and to provide pleasant working conditions for its workers who perform a psychologically strenuous task”.
With a concept based on ancient burial earth mounds, found in ancient excavation sites throughout Greece, the project is practically invisible from its suburban surroundings, surrounded and covered from its three sides by a gently sloped earth mound. The center of the proposal is punctuated by a void including the central reception courtyard and the smaller “cremation patio”. Read on for the architects' description of their project.
Visitors to the complex descend the gentle slope alongside the external face of the earthen wall. The same route, except on the inner side of the wall, is reserved for the hearses that bring the deceased to be prepared for the cremation process. Northwards, three large-scale doors give direct access to the ceremony hall, the cremation chamber, and the ash delivery office respectively. Eastwards, at the far end of the central atrium, one arrives at the reception and administration offices. A sequence of water elements escorts mourners along the ritual path from the large monumental entrance to the inner cistern of the “cremation patio” and the internal columbarium. The “landscape of remembrance”, an outdoor area where ashes can be buried or scattered and ceremonies of remembrance of the deceased can be hosted in the open air, will be accessible from dawn to dusk.
The west side of the central atrium is a long, perforated claustra screen that filters the view to and from the " landscape of remembrance." It is a modular construction of two-sided urn chambers with alternating voids in-between them, oriented in such a way so as to allow western light to penetrate deep into the courtyard, revealing its decorated, relief stone floor. Its motifs reference geometric decorations typical of archaic Greek pottery, incorporating symbols familiar to different religions and cultures. We wanted this densely decorated paving to act as an element of mental consolation and emotional relief for the bereaved. -- Architects Stelios Andrikopoulos, Konstantinos Grivas, and Alexandra Stratou
- Project: Crematorium
- Location: Patras, Achaia Prefecture, Greece
- Client: Municipality of Patras
- Architects: Stelios Andrikopoulos, Konstantinos Grivas, Alexandra Stratou
- Assistant architect: Xenophon Kekkos
- Size: 1.680 sqm. (Ground Floor)
- Planning phase: Competition, A’ Prize
- Year: 2019