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Design Thesis: Crematorium , New Chandigarh


Ashwini Kumar Crematorium Surat, Gujarat


Design Thesis: Crematorium , New Chandigarh


Submitted in partial fulfillment of the requirements for the award of the degree of

BACHELOR OF ARCHITECTURE By Sukhmani Kaur 2013ARA077 Under the Guidance of Dr. Sandeep Dua Ar. Ranbir Kaur



Design Thesis: Crematorium , New Chandigarh

The following document is a part of the author’s B.Arch thesis project. Analysis is purely her work.


Design Thesis: Crematorium , New Chandigarh


Design Thesis: Crematorium , New Chandigarh

Ashwini Kumar Crematorium Matharoo Associates Project Name: Ashwini Kumar Shamshan Location: Surat, Gujarat Architect: Gurjit Singh Matharoo Client: Narayan Trust Site Area: 1.3 Acres Opening Year:1999 [Source :] [Fig:5.1] Surat in Gujarat, India

About the city Surat is a city in the Indian state of Gujarat. It used to be a large seaport and is now a center for diamond cutting and polishing. It is the eighth largest city in India. The city centre is located on the Tapti River, close to Arabian Sea. Surat is the 3rd “cleanest city of India” according to the Indian Ministry of Urban Development.

Climate Surat has a tropical savanna climate (Köppen: Aw), moderated strongly by the Sea to the Gulf of Cambay. The summer begins in early March and lasts till June. April and May are the hottest months, the average maximum temperature being 37 °C (99 °F). Monsoon begins in late June and the city receives rain by the end of September. October and November see the retreat of the monsoon and a return of high temperatures till late November. Winter starts in December and ends in late February, with average mean temperatures of around 23 °C and negligible rain. [Source :]


Design Thesis: Crematorium , New Chandigarh

Site Surroundings The AshiwiniKumar Crematorium is located on the banks of the river Tapi in Surat, Gujarat. On the opposite side of the road is a commercial and industrial complex. Adjacent to the crematorium is a railway bridge crossing the river. [Fig:6.1] Commercial area on the approach road

Road Tapi River Railway Bridge

[Fig:6.2] Color Coded Site Surroundings. [Source:Google Maps]

[Fig:6.3] View of Tapi when built, now a boundary wall is added.

“While respecting the strong traditional beliefs and values connected to cremation, the projects not only attempts to find a valid architectural expression for a crematorium in an urban context but also attempts to eloquently navigate the changing role of religion in modern society. Although connected ritually to Hinduism, the building is secular in nature, open to all, irrespective of religious beliefs.� [Source : Matharoo Associates] [Image Source : Brian Starr and Michael Zeller, University of Utah] 6

[Fig:6.4] Model of the Site

Design Thesis: Crematorium , New Chandigarh

LEGEND Administration Open Seating (2) Reading Room (3) Canteen (4) Processional Route (5) Waiting Area (6) Store (7) Gas Control Room (8) Toilet (9) Way to Staff Quarters (10) Body Washing Platform (11) Gas Chamber (15) Body Ritual Platform (14) Landscape Court (12,16) Circulation Wooden Cremation (20,22) Raised Platform (18) Parking (23)


Site Plan The built up and landscaped areas are interconnected. It is an open plan, where the staff resides on the upper floors. Sense of direction is not defined [Fig:7.1] Site Plan showing various zones of function. [Source :]


Design Thesis: Crematorium , New Chandigarh

Sections and Elevations

South East Elevation

North East Elevation

Section XX Section YY

[Source : Brian Starr and Michael Zeller, University of Utah]

Entrance to the complex



Design Thesis: Crematorium , New Chandigarh “In a span of four years between 1992 and 1996, Surat was ravaged repeatedly by terrible natural and man-made calamities. (1993-Communal riots, 1994- Tapi flood). Within a span of two years, the city transformed. During this period, the competition for a new crematorium was launched, resulting in this entry being selected from among 28 other entries.” [Source : Matharoo Associates]

Office 120sq.m Canteen 165sq.m Wood Store 175sq.m P. Route 350sq.m

Staff Quater 100sq.m Waiting 70sq.m Toilets 50sq.m BWash Area 20sq.m

Parking 500sq.m

Site Area

Gas Control Room 15sq.m

Wood 1065sq.m GasChamber 1300sq.m

Landscape Area 2850sq.m

Allowing maximum space for landscape purposes, built up is overlapped from both the sides. Many divisions are made in case of room or allotment for administration. Spaces are well-defined spite of being in an open plan. The processional route goes undisturbed through all the other spaces such are body washing area or waiting or even public conveniences.

[Fig:9.1] Pie Chart showing area divisions.

Etymology It is said that to save himself the sun God himself from his own heat created the Tapi, the river on which the site is situated. At the bank of this river lies the site ‘ASHWINIKUMAR’. The site is pregnant with burgeoning myths: the Ashwinikumars were two brothers born of Surya and Sangna, daughter of Vishwakarma. At the time of their inception, Surya and Sangna took the form of horses – the sons in turn were born with horses’ faces. On a visit to Indralok, the god Indra laughs at their unusual form. Insulted by this derision, they decide to kill themselves. Naramundi, aware of their identity, advises them, ‘a man must never forsake his body. How does one find moksha if one avoids one’s Karma?” and then asks them to bath at this spot on the bank of river Tapi, where even the birds find moksha after a dip in its holy water. Thus advised, both men regained their beauty. They stay on to become master healers – Ashwinikumar is named after these two souls.


Design Thesis: Crematorium , New Chandigarh

Design Breakdown

Administration and Services

In Ashwnikumar Crematorium, a large reception and processional hall have been created to house the waiting guests. likewise, the entire plan of the building facilitates the program of the activity within. upon entering, one moves past the waiting benches and administrative offices. he is then funnelled into a ceremonial hall that precedes the gas oven. within the ceremonial hall, visitors are able to perform any rites they feel necessary with ample room. privacy is made possible by the use of large screening walls incorporated int he structural design of the building.

Wood Crematorium Landscape Gas Chamber Crematorium Circulation

[Source : Brian Starr and Michael Zeller, University of Utah]

Zoning The site is very well zoned according to the usage by both people and the management. Broadly, the front side of the site is administration, canteen, store and staff quarters. It also included spaces like waiting area and public conveniences. Whereas, the backside is the crematoriums 2 traditional wood system and 8 gas chambers which are inbuilt. Enveloping both kinds of crematoriums are the green landscape areas.

Complex Built up Store and Services Processional Route Processional Route Gas Chamber Crematorium

[Fig:10.1] Site Plan showing various zones of function. [Source : Mancini Enterprise PVT LTD. ;]


[Fig:10.2] Design Breakdown: Two cremation systems and their processional routes make a complex built up. [Source : Mancini Enterprise PVT LTD. ;]

Design Thesis: Crematorium , New Chandigarh

Movement Entrance to the site is from Fulpada Road. Inside the complex, sense of direction is not that defined because of being open plan. The visitors along with the body are supposed to follow processional route till the crematorium (gas or wood). Meanwhile, the chief mourner will register and fill forms.

[Fig:11.1] Processional Routes

[Fig:11.2] Fulpada Road

Administration and Canteen

[Fig:11.3] Processional Routes

Once the complex is entered, the administration is on right hand side and canteen being on the left side. This crematorium is taken care by the narayan trust since 1982. On an average there are 30-35 bodies cremated here majorly belonging to hindu community [Fig:11.4] Administration


[Fig:11.5] Entrance



Design Thesis: Crematorium , New Chandigarh

Store The wood used for cremation are stored on site. There is a service road from the side of the complex which enables vehicular moment directly to the store. In the store, facilities of weighing the wood and of cutting is available. It is blocked currently with wood stacks. This is also the backside of the staff quarter on the above floors.

Service Road

[ F i g : 1 2 . 2 ] Wood Machines

[Fig:12.1] Wood Storage


Waiting and Open Seating Throughout the site, open seating is in built in the structure of the complex. Whereas near the entrance, there is wooden bench seating provided for people to sit and prayers are also held here. Many architectectural elements like edge skylights are present here. [Fig:12.4] Waiting Area

Waiting Area

[ F i g : 1 2 . 5 ] Open Seating



Design Thesis: Crematorium , New Chandigarh

Gas Cremation Chamber Management of gas chamber is separate. LPG pipeline is connected to the chambers. On an average, a body takes 1.5hours to burn fully. The gas used in one day is 15-17kg depending on the number of bodies arriving on a particular day. It is designed in curved element to capture keep protect it from wind.

[Fig:13.1] Gas Furnaces

Gas chamber and skylight

[ F i g : 1 3 . 2 ] Circulation in the chambers


Sitting towards the river

[ F i g : 1 3 . 4 ] Behind Chambers-Dead spaces


Body Washing Platform

[ F i g : 1 3 . 6 ] Landscape behind



Design Thesis: Crematorium , New Chandigarh

Wood Cremation There are two traditional pyre burning systems in the complex. When the building was designed, both of them were kept together but because of heat problems one was shifted on the outer side in an open shed. The ceiling are very black because of the soot produced.

Body washing platform

[ F i g : 1 4 . 2 ] Wood Machines

Dark ceilings


[ F i g : 1 4 . 5 ] Open wood cremation


[Fig:14.1] Wood Pyre




Design Thesis: Crematorium , New Chandigarh

Materials of Construction The construction material used is mainly exposed concrete. The partition walls act as structural members by themselves.For the cremation purpose, gas Chamber units were installed andWrought iron case were used for the Wood pier.Chimneys were installed on each Gas chamber unit, to direct the smoke. Spout

Activity Mapping

[Fig:15.1] Skylight


Before the cremation, the filled which requires a death certificate (or post mortem report), Adhar Card Copy. Friends/ Family accompany the dead Body is kept on the body washing platform Everyone pays homage and rituals are performed. Then the body is put on the pushing equipment and pushed into the gas chamber or stacked with wood in other case The door of the chamber is closed and it is turned on by the management Donations are made by the family members as per their desire Everybody Departs Ashes are collected the next day or the same day, they are put in Tapi river or where the family desires.


Design Thesis: Crematorium , New Chandigarh

Inferences -Ceiling height is not enough to let the smoke release easily. The ceilings have visiblaly turned black because of the soot. -The impression this crematorium gave on the day of visit was of a cremation factory, it does not give a spiritual feeling. -Little through and through holes are present in the structural elements to give breathing spaces to the space. [Fig:16.1] Breathing of built: through and through holes in the structural walls.

[Fig:16.1] Holes of aproximately 2.5 cm dia

-Very delicate architectural elements are present, such are corner skylights throughout and use of curves in the design as per the wind direction. -It runs on donation. There is no fixed fees for the cremation. People pay as per their own desire. -It is a 24x7 working crematorium which affects how it is being harmed architecturally. -Landscape is integral part of the design. -Staff quarters are placed in a safe and private space.

Design Interpretation The design looks like it is inspired from a hand gesture of protecting a light of diya. The gas chambers are curved protecting it from the wind from the river tapi.


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Ashwini Kumar Crematorium, Surat - Architectural Case Study  

Ashwini Kumar Crematorium, Surat - Architectural Case Study