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crematorium Siesegem


crematorium Siesegem


A crematorium in a park Taking leave of our deceased loved ones remains a time of reserve and introspection, reflecting on our own mortality. For centuries the body of a deceased person was buried in the ground. In our Western culture it was only in the 20th century that cremation became a more accepted practice. There is one major difference between architecture and the other forms of cultural expression such as music, fashion and literature. A building takes up space and it gives meaning to a specific place. To build is a human endeavour that totally transforms a location. A building cannot be moved, and indeed, has been built at a particular location to serve a social need. When building a castle, it was always embedded in a landscape: green lawns, rows of trees, water features. In the same way KAAN Architecten has chosen to design a complete space for the crematorium of Aalst, so that a symbiotic relationship can emerge between the building and its surroundings. Land formations, orientation and accessibility, for example, are elements that are configured in such a way that the building becomes one with its environment. The name of the crematorium, Siesegem, refers to its location: it was once the Siesegemkouter, fertile land bordering the western ring road of the city. During the competition phase, there was much emphasis on the unity of building and surroundings and this was further developed during the design phase. The design of the grounds was achieved in collaboration with Erik Dhont, a highly regarded, international landscape architect. In order to screen off the nearby business estates, the site was transformed with the use of physical and visual barriers. Trees and shrubs line the perimeter and the crematorium is planted in the middle, with a footprint of 74 by 74 metres. At its core, the site design induces visitors to slow down, and already at the car park they can experience a sense of calm. The entrance to the grounds is at Blauwenbergstraat and not the ring road. Upon arrival they encounter undulating green spaces with parking to the left and right. The site is divided into zones 5


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for specific uses. To the north there is a pond which also serves as a reservoir for rainwater. Adjacent to this are the field of scattered ashes and the urn garden, designed as little hills. The service road for the hearses and other deliveries are at the eastern end, completely hidden from view. By combining these routes, visitors do not see the arrival of the hearse, just as was the case in traditional church funerals. The reason for this combination is that there are far more cremations than ceremonies and the arrival and departure of so many hearses would disturb the ceremonies that do take place in the assembly halls. This would adversely affect the families who have come for serenity, ceremony and privacy. Designing a crematorium is more than simply satisfying the technical and functional requirements and providing an optimal setting for commercial exploitation. An architect must deliver a solution that addresses the complex logistics while still designing something that feels self-explanatory and natural in use. KAAN Architecten themselves use the word ‘sequencing’ to describe the physical experience of this interior. It is important that visitors do not feel spatial confusion, as there will often be funeral services in progress at the same time. An intermingling of visitors should be avoided at all times. The enormous floor-to-ceiling height of the interior is a feature that is immediately felt. Like the Heimolen Crematorium in SintNiklaas, designed by this same Rotterdam firm, the ceiling reaches 6.4 metres. This allowed an extra floor to be created in adjacent areas. These office accommodations, not visible to visitors, were then also able to benefit from high ceilings and patios, which lets in an abundance of daylight.

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MASTERPLAN PLANS SECTIONS ELEVATIONS

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Siteplan MASTERPLAN

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A gesture of welcome The arrival experience is very important to this kind of building. The procession from car park to ceremonial assembly should be peaceful. The architectural choices must therefore contribute to a sense of tranquillity and comfort, and to the transition from a busy outside world into an interior imbued with calm and restraint. Architecture should inspire a special feeling of some kind and even intensify an experience, in this case that of the final parting moments. Even the material finishes – a ‘background’ aspect – guide the ceremonial route here. The crematorium of Aalst is entered in stages. The south-western corner of the building opens onto a patio and serves as a transitional zone. It’s an inviting embrace, fortified by the welcoming presence of a few trees planted there. A large canopy stretches into a generously proportioned vestibulet. The reception desk is immediately visible and lit from above. The reception hall is impressive with its 74-metre length and 6.4-metre ceiling. Once inside, the space is infused with light by two large windows at both ends of the space that look out onto the landscaped grounds. The full length of this reception hall is also a buffer zone. The succession of ceremonies demands sufficient space for people to wait in a restful setting. Opposite the reception desk there is a discrete passageway to the cafeteria on the south side of the building.

PLANS SECTIONS ELEVATIONS

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Ground floor, scale 1:500 m

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1 visitors’ entrance 2 cafeteria 3 kitchen services 4 dining room 5 hall 6 reception 7 condolence room 8 family room 9 entry chamber 10 ceremony hall

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11 viewing chamber 12 archive 13 oven room 14 technical rooms 15 service entrance 16 meeting room 17 office 18 AV room 19 staff quarters 20 funeral director’s quarters


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Section, scale 1:500 PLANS SECTIONS ELEVATIONS

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The ceremonial assembly halls A crematorium should be able to accommodate funerals for anywhere from ten to six-hundred mourners. The largest hall has generous dimensions, with seating for 600. KAAN Architecten also designed the benches: an elegant design with leather upholstery that feels pleasant. The light yellowbeige colour is meant to contribute to a more ‘domestic’ ambience. Increasingly audio-visual presentations are requested, so these spaces also require darkness more often than not. The back wall of the large hall is glazed and looks out to a patio, though stills acts as a barrier to the outside world. It is important that the big and small halls get their daylight from behind and that a strong backlight is avoided. During a funeral, all attention is focused on the casket or urn at the front. This front space is furnished with a wall that is lit by daylight from behind and indicates where the casket will be after the ceremony. The right proportions were also sought for the smaller hall. Both assembly spaces have a family room and a place for condolences, positioned appropriately to ensure good flow. Next to both rooms is an outdoor patio with greenery. The links to nature and daylight offer a counterweight to the intensity experienced by the bereaved as they say their farewell. Keeping the technical aspects visible The practice of cremation is constantly evolving. The cremation chamber has long been a purely technical aspect of the funerary process, accessed only by personnel. Yet, gradually, the desire to attend the moment of entry into the furnace has increased; it is an even more intimate experience for the bereaved family. This influences where to place the furnace in the building, the circulatory route, the staging of the space, and the view from it.

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In contrast to the crematorium in Sint-Niklaas, more parts of the technical aspects are on view, creating a somewhat strange though successful polarity between the mechanics and the serenity. Every space in the Aalst crematorium has been painted in a soft uniform yellow. From the clarity and sequencing of one’s movement through the building, to the chimney as it stretches up through a glazed opening in the roof, there is a sense of dignity and intimacy. It is also important that personnel here are afforded a view to the outside. The circumstances of one’s daily work should be agreeable, too. Daylight instead of artificial light in an enclosed space can make all the difference and is something an architect needs to think about and incorporate. Materials as unifier The choice of materials and the detailing are paramount to achieving a tranquil mood. For the exterior the architects chose visible concrete with a rhythm left by the panels of the formwork. In the interior, the walls are matt and have slightly roughened render, while the ceiling has a rough sprayed finish to ensure muted acoustics. The family rooms and coffee rooms have oak parquet floors. All the spaces must express the essence of the architecture, rather than being merely surfaces for cladding. Material choices determine the final unity achieved and the perception of the building as a whole. Stone has an incredible quality to it. What was once a moving mass, was pressed into a conglomeration by natural forces in prehistoric times. Sawing through it always reveals unexpected forms and contours. Stone exposes an astonishing temporal dimension, certainly in relation to our own time on earth. The great Viennese architect Adolf Loos believed it was the task of an architect to unearth incredible, hidden shapes. KAAN Architecten opted for a Ceppo di Gré from Albania, with rocks of varying colours and dimensions. Several of the vertical surfaces were composed in an ‘open book’ form: plates were positioned next to each other so that the natural designs were mirrored. This centuries-old technique is seen in Charlemagne’s 8th-century Palatine Chapel in Aachen, but also in Mies van der Rohe’s Barcelona Pavilion. After sawing the stone blocks into 2.4 x 1 metre plates, the architects 14


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reviewed photographs of all the plates to arrange compositions that satisfied the desired effect. The floors were treated in the same way where the space called for it. The same marble was used for the reception desk in the long foyer, the bar, the lectern, the catafalque and the high skirting of the courtyard walls. Comfort after the ceremony In comparison with our neighbouring countries, we require our crematoria to have a more complex programme. Apart from the technical and ceremonial aspects, we need a space for coming together to share food and drinks. Belgium has a long tradition of inviting family and friends for coffee and a small meal after the funeral. It is a time to reconnect with people not seen on a daily basis, a moment to share stories about the deceased. This intimate time together is usually concluded with the ritual of spreading ashes or placing the urn in its final resting place. The catering needs to be directly connected to the ceremonial part, yet should not be a visual distraction. Here, the five assembly halls open out onto a long cafeteria with an outdoor patio zone. The kitchen and restrooms are on the other long side of the cafeteria. The wall at the short end will feature a large scale painting by Rinus Van de Velde. Careful consideration was also given to the acoustics of the spaces. All the windows offer wide views over the valley, the pond opposite and the ritualistic green zone.

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PLANS SECTIONS ELEVATIONS

MASTERPLAN

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m

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First floor, scale 1:500 m

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1 visitors’ entrance 2 cafeteria 3 kitchen services 4 dining room 5 hall 6 reception 7 condolence room 8 family room 9 entry chamber 10 ceremony hall

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11 viewing chamber 12 archive 13 oven room 14 technical rooms 15 service entrance 16 meeting room 17 office 18 AV room 19 staff quarters 20 funeral director’s quarters


Section, scale 1:500 m

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19 -b -P -s - re l %

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20 -b -P - in -b -s -c -h -s

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19 concrete roof: - ballasted roof gravel, selected according to the color - PVC waterproof membrane 1.5mm, colored light gray, - sloped screed realized in foam concrete, not insulated, minimum height 30mm - reinforced concrete roof cast on site with customized plywood formwork with linear sharp joints through floor – wall – ceiling, coil tie holes recessed and uncapped, % ton pierre, colored light gray 20 roof: - ballasted roof gravel, selected according to the color - PVC waterproof membrane 1.5mm, colored light gray - insulation panel 120mm - bituminous membrane - sloped screed realized in foam concrete, not insulated - concrete screed - hollow core slab 260mm - soundproofing spray plaster finishing, colored light gray

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22 -F ca 4

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21 cellular glass insulation blocks R≥2.0 m²K / W 22 recessed spotlight: - Floss Kap built in to the concrete slab, cabels running through foam concrete screed 23 façade: - curtain wall façade with structural glass panels, sealed seams, mullion and transoms in dark bronze anodized aluminium

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outside

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24 outdoor flooring: - reinforced brushed concrete slab, colored light gray, % ton pierre - bituminous waterproof membrane - granular fill

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25 hall floor: - polymer concrete 110mm, top layer of natural cement, injected with floor hardener, sealed with nano-silicate, with underfloor heating and cooling system - EPS insulation panels 80mm - foam concrete screed - concrete screed - hollow core slab 200 mm

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26 floor ventilation grill: - displacement grid, aluminum anodised - filter - welded aluminium pipe with baseplate - sealant/insulation Armaflex - ventilation duct

West facade detail, scale 1:25 WEST FACADE 1:25 section

1 concrete roof - ballasted roof gravel, selected according to the color - PVC waterproof membrane 1.5mm, colored light gray, - sloped screed realized in foam concrete, not insulated, minimum height 30mm - reinforced concrete roof cast on site with customized plywood formwork with linear sharp joints through floor – wall – ceiling, coil tie holes recessed and uncapped, % ton pierre, colored light gray

- concrete screed - hollow core slab 260mm - soundproofing spray plaster finishing, colored light gray

2 roof - ballasted roof gravel, selected according to the color - PVC waterproof membrane 1.5mm, colored light gray - insulation panel 120mm - bituminous membrane - sloped screed realized in foam concrete, not insulated

5 façade - curtain wall façade with structural glass panels, sealed seams, mullion and transoms in dark bronze anodized aluminium

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3 cellular glass insulation blocks R≥2.0 m²K / W 4 recessed spotlight - Floss Kap built in to the concrete slab, cabels running through foam concrete screed

6 outdoor flooring - reinforced brushed concrete slab, colored light gray, % ton pierre

25 -p s -E - fo -c -h

- bituminous waterproof membrane - granular fill 7 hall floor - polymer concrete 110mm, top layer of natural cement, injected with floor hardener, sealed with nano-silicate, with underfloor heating and cooling system - EPS insulation panels 80mm - foam concrete screed - concrete screed - hollow core slab 200 mm 8 floor ventilation grill - displacement grid, aluminum anodised - filter - welded aluminium pipe with baseplate - sealant/insulation Armaflex - ventilation duct


Section, scale 1:500 m

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Setting a precedent Good architecture requires a good client. A clearly defined programme inspires pertinent questions from the architect, so both can work together to achieve the best results. Kris Coenegrachts’ input was crucial to making this project a success. His expertise and insights into recent developments in crematoria services have contributed to fine-tuning a very publically-oriented building type. After an intensive working relationship in Sint-Niklaas, KAAN Architecten were able to deliver a second project along with a team colleagues and contractors. The task of building is and remains a difficult but fascinating undertaking that involves many. Buildings for use by the general public transcend any private interests involved in that they have a unifying role to fill for society. All those involved understand there is a responsibility to provide the community with quality architecture and landscaping, quality that may even go on to represent a new cultural heritage. The final form of the new landscape will require a few seasons to express its full potential. Buildings should be designed with legible spaces and easily understood routes, so as to reduce signage to a minimum. A building that is entered for the first time by many users should feel logical and modestly guide a natural circulation. This requires more than simply assigning uses to spaces. The interior should speak to us and appeal to our emotions, it should instil calmness and space for reflection. KAAN Architecten managed to create a place with sequential spaces, all with the right proportions. They accomplished their goal to design a “building without corridors�. Humans are vertical beings. When death arrives, they become horizontal. The crematorium in Aalst is an ode to verticality, where the living take leave of the departed. There is little demand for a spiritual experience, but rather for an environment that emanates genuine serenity. The sought-after ambiance differs from public buildings like schools and libraries. Indeed, it must transcend the functional aspects that in these other building types are determinative. In their search for a crematorium typology, KAAN Architecten have succeeded. Without succumbing to pompous monumentalism, the building and its grounds are an oasis for humane experiences. 22


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crematorium Siesegem

Location Merestraat 169, 9300 Aalst, Belgium Architect KAAN Architecten (Kees Kaan, Vincent Panhuysen, Dikkie Scipio) Project team Bas Barendse, Dante Borgo, Maicol Cardelli, Timo Cardol, Sebastian van Damme, Paolo Faleschini, Raluca Firicel, Cristina Gonzalo Cuairรกn, Michael Geensen, Walter Hoogerwerf, Marco Lanna, Giuseppe Mazzaglia, Exequiel Mulder, Ismael Planelles Naya, Giulia Rapizza, Ana Rivero Esteban, Giacomo Rizzi Client Intergemeentelijke Samenwerking Westlede (IGS) Design phase June 2013 - September 2014 (competition: December 2012) Construction phase April 2016 - September 2018 Ground floor area (GFA) 5000 sqm Landscape Erik Dhont, Brussels, Belgium Contractor Jan de Nul, Hofstade-Aalst, Belgium Advisor construction Pieters Bouwtechniek, Delft, the Netherlands Management Kaan Architecten, Rotterdam, the Netherlands Bureau Bouwtechniek, Antwerpen, Belgium Water, electrical and supervision installations Henk Pijpaert Engineering, Oudenaarde, Belgium Acoustics, climate, physics DGMR, Arnhem, the Netherlands Ovens DFW, Broek op Langedijk, the Netherlands Multimedia BIS, Ridderkerk, the Netherlands

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Colophon Text Marc Dubois Translation Words on the run (Dianna Beaufort) Photography Simone Bossi: cover image, 2-10, 13 (bottom), 14-22, 26-39, 43 Sebastian van Damme: 13 (top), 23-25, 40, 41 Graphic design KAAN Architecten (Alice Colombo) Printing Aeroprint, Ouderkerk aan de Amstel, the Netherlands Paper Munken Lynx 130grs, Colorplan Vellum White 270grs ISBN 978-90-824843-7-3 This work is subject to copyright. All rights are reserved. No parts of this publication may be reproduced or transmitted in any form or by any means. For any kind of use, a prior permission of the publisher and copyright owner must be obtained.

Š2018 KAAN Architecten


crematorium Siesegem

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crematorium Siesegem  

crematorium Siesegem  

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