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Architecture conducive to contemplation. Design of the new part of the cemetery in Bogucice

Dobrawa Bies
14 of December '20

Does today's funerary architecture have to be haphazard and cemetery development ill-conceived? This is the question that Nina Kempa from the Warsaw University of Technology seeks to answer in an engineering project. The student, using the Katowice cemetery in Bogucice as an example, decided to create a green-filled object conducive to contemplation and reflection.

The subject of the engineering work done under the direction of Pawel Grodzicki is a public facility, which is a complex of buildings of a sacred character. Its main part is the crematorium building with auxiliary functions. The other buildings are elements of small architecture or smaller buildings aimed at improving the operation of the cemetery. All the buildings together form a project for the development of the currently empty new part of the necropolis.

Kaplica cmentarna

The aim of the project is to create a facility conducive to contemplation

© Nina Kempa

As the author explains:

Modern necropolises rarely create a mood of sublimity and uniqueness. Today's funerary architecture is haphazard and gaudy, and cemeteries tend to be ill-conceived and neglected spaces. The goal of the project is to reverse this reality and create a variety of objects conducive to contemplation and reflection. An equally important aspect of the work is to help in the daily care and concern for the burial place of loved ones. It is clear that architecture cannot comfort or give solace during mourning. Therefore, I wanted to focus on facilitating this process through solutions that help in everyday life and provide a dignified place to say goodbye to the deceased.

Główna elewacja

The facade of the building is a part of the surroundings

© Nina Kempa

Bogucice cemetery

TheBogucice cemetery in Katowice belongs to the Roman Catholic parish of St. Stephen. The complex was built in stages - historical plans of the city and the structure itself testify to this. Analyzing the needs of visitors to the cemetery, the student focused on solving the most intractable problems, such as improving the existing establishment by enriching it with new functions.

w Bogucicach sytuacja

The newer the cemetery section, the worse the infrastructure

© Nina Kempa

The newer the fragment, the worse or non-existent the infrastructure that goes with it. Treating this theme as an addition to the already existing premise, the scale of the project was reduced by breaking it down into smaller blocks. They are a response to the function that is missing in a particular place," explains the author.

atmosphere of silence

The designed complex is divided into several different buildings, and each corresponds to a specific typology and purpose. The main and largest building around which the project centers is the crematorium. In order to maintain unobstructed communication, the building was squatted to the border of the cemetery, and thus its facade became a section of the fence. This procedure resulted in a separation from the outside world, creating an atmosphere of silence and intimacy.

Wnętrza sprzyjają

The interiors correspond to the stages of mourning

© Nina Kempa

greenery vs. sepulchral architecture

Analyzing the legal acts on the plot and design of cemeteries, one can see how much emphasis is placed on the importance of greenery and infrastructure that allows the use of these places. According to these documents, cemeteries should be designed and maintained as park-like areas.

Rzut wnętrz obiektów

Instead of monuments in the cemetery area, a lot of greenery is envisaged

© Nina Kempa

This is what Nina Kempa says about greenery in cemeteries:

Looking at most modern necropolises it is difficult to find a trace of the recommendations made in the documents. In the project I wanted to give a park-like character to the developed part. A large part of the designed area will be occupied by greenery, which in this case is the Cemetery Meadow. By deciding on a crematorium and urn burial in the form of a columbarium, it was possible to "reclaim" a large chunk of the area and instead of traditional monuments allocate it to greenery. Ultimately, it could be used as a place for scattering ashes, but Polish law currently prohibits this.

The metaphor of the road

Analyzing the architecture of the cemetery and in the surrounding area, the author decided on a single-story establishment so as not to overwhelm the neighboring low-rise buildings. The height of the building was varied according to the room. The construction material used is solid dark brick, referring to the tradition of Silesian construction.

Wnętrza sprzyjają

The rooms differ in the gradation of light and shadow

© Nina Kempa

The architect tried to shape the building as an analogy of the stages of mourning and recovery from it. For this reason, each room is different. They contrast in scale, materials used and gradation of light and shadow. The layout of the interiors creates a path. From the darkest room where we face the fait accompli through the brightest room where the funeral ceremony takes place to neutral rooms directing us to exit and return to everyday life.

Nina Kempa's project was awarded First Prize in the 2020 Brick Architecture competition in the category: Building the Future.


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