Zorgvlied Crematorion, Amsterdam, NL
A fitting way of leave-taking
Zorgvlied Crematorion, situated in the historical Zorgvlied Cemetery in Amsterdam, represents a new approach to cremation. It allows mourners to accompany the remains of their beloved as far as possible towards the cremation furnace. GROUP A designed the innovative structure that makes this new approach possible.
The Crematorion, composed of the words cremate (burn) and Orion (star), is a stand-alone building, that houses a cremation furnace and processing room, without the usual auditorium. The structure is designed to focus the minds on the ritual of leave-taking. Allowing each participant to shape it and give it meaning in his or her own particular way. After the farewell ceremony, the relatives accompany the deceased through the beautiful grounds of Zorgvlied to the Crematorion. The next of kin get to choose whether they want to leave the casket in the special forecourt, or whether they want to enter it into the furnace themselves. Also, unlike a regular service at a crematorium, all invitees can be present at the moment the casket enters the furnace. It allows differing cultures the opportunity of taking leave in their own way, employing the rituals they consider most appropriate.
The 16-metre high Crematorion is carefully embedded in the leafy surroundings of the cemetery and the vegetation on both sides of the path continues rising along the walls of the exterior. It has a base made of stone and a light, tent-like superstructure above it, ending into a glass covered opening. The contrasting materials symbolise the tension between the heaviness of the earth and the insubstantiality of the heavenly. The opening in the top is oriented to the sun and the rotation in the tent-structure stems from the difference between the incidence of sunlight and the direction of the site. Daylight from above illuminates the glass mosaic wall in the forecourt. This wall also separates the forecourt from the technical area.
The distinctive pavilion is a friendly and recognizable building, with its subtle hints of something higher than the earthly sphere. In GROUP A's design, the routing through the historic Cemetery - the journey of the deceased and the next of kin, from the auditorium to the Crematorion - plays an important role. The verticality of the design reinforces the idea of the spirit of the departed, rising to the imaginary stars. It turns this final journey into a meaningful ritual.