Constanze Massing

Constanze Massing

Crematorium Neandertal - Merging Paths. FH Aachen (Germany)

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Constanze Massing

Cremation is the most chosen final disposition method in Germany, yet the difficulty of combining cremation with a truly dignified ceremony still remains. The need for new, more fitting ceremonial activities surrounding cremation is growing as is the need for an architecture that supports this process. This was fundamental for the design response of “Merging Paths”.

This design aims to bring together the final path of the deceased with the contemplative path of the mourners in a sensitive but functional way. The two uniting building structures represent this idea and form a symbiotic relationship with the cemetery landscape while connecting to the nearby Neanderthal nature reserve.

The primary intention was to create a journey that supports the events and emotions experienced by those grieving and farewelling the deceased. The building is designed to lead and support the narrative of grief, as well as to reduce the risk of confusion and crossover with other visitors. The flow of the mourners is guided by a hierarchy of special spaces with carefully selected transitions. Each areas composition of dimensions, materials, connection or exclusion to the surroundings, light and shadow effects have been defined to support the visitors’ mental journey. This series of spaces is underlined by a support structure that evolves throughout the building. The structure starts with a simple colonnade at the carpark which creates a mental distance from everyday life and terminates in complex vaults at the columbarium as the final resting place.

As mourners leave the final resting place, they make their way around the recreation area to the existing chapel where they can attend a condolence meeting while food and drinks are served.

Cemetery visitors, who are seeking comfort after losing a beloved person can connect at the small cemetery café inside the old chapel.

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