In the words of its designers, the Belgian firm a2o, the new crematorium in Lommel, Limburg, “is more than a building, it is a site” that accompanies visitors on a journey.
Like the activities that take place here, it is an irreversible, one-way only process made of a sequence of stages: the entrance path, strictly rectilinear, firmly channels those who are about to say the final farewell to a loved one; the “Campo Santo”, where the three main blocks overlook (the actual crematorium, the ceremonial and the catering building), is conceived as a sacred space, one of peace and contemplation; to conclude, the trail leading to the exit is an unsteady, wavy line, which plunges into nature while seemingly searching for its lost direction.
In fact, the project by a2o is also, if not primarily, a landscape project. “At a cemetery that lacks explicit religious symbols, the universal power of nature replaces the sacral”, and the architects aim to bring it back to its primordial conditions, restoring the forgotten balance between pine woods, heathland and sand dunes. The irregular and ever-changing boundaries of the natural elements assault the building’s stereometric volumes, which partially emerge and partially sink into the site’s uneven altimetry.
Wood, fair-faced concrete and bricks (the latter elegantly laid-out to create multiple textures and chiaroscuro) are selected as ostensibly solid and yet imperfect materials, so that the project will appear in the landscape as “a ruin, that happens to have been turned into a crematorium”.
- Lommel, Belgium
- a2o architecten
- 3,000 sqm