CHROFI and McGregor Coxall have challenged our idea of what a cemetery can be, and how we deal with death, with their new ‘bushland cemetery for a secular society’. Their Acacia Remembrance Sanctuary, designed for a wooded site near Sydney, Australia, won the 2016 Future Projects Commercial Award at the prestigious international WAN architecture awards, announced recently.(Images attached).
As societies become more secular, our attitudes to death and dying are changing. This shift in personal beliefs and philosophies is challenging the existing funeral industry and traditional cemetery establishment. CHROFI and McGregor Coxall’s project offers a new way of thinking about these issues - one which challenges what a cemetery can be, and how we interact with and deal with death, and how we celebrate our loved ones.
Acacia Remembrance Sanctuary is located within the idyllic setting of a conservation woodland area on the outskirts of Sydney Australia. Pioneering a new cemetery model, the design team together with the client sought to challenge what a contemporary cemetery could be.
CHROFI and McGregor Coxall have created a site-wide experience with a specific focus on natural burials without headstones. The first of its kind in Australia, the memorialisation becomes the retention and protection of this unique bush ecology where GPS technology is used to locate the resting place of loved ones.
The Acacia site is 10.1 hectares. The building itself is approx. 400 sqm.
The project was unanimously selected for the Future Commercial Award at the WAN Awards by a three-person jury, whocommented, inter alia:
“It’s the most carefully crafted of all of the projects. I am intrigued by somebody who is re-looking at something that is an incredibly difficult subject. You’re dealing with some of the most difficult personal circumstances, you’re dealing with multi-denominational issues and how you can make this an incredibly successful commercial project.
‘This has to be a commercial entity.. they have thought though every single facet. ‘
‘Evocative, contemplative, "treading lightly on the surroundings” a potentially emotionally charged program that has been handled deftly”
“Well considered.. These sorts of places are not always a place where you want to be through choice. But then as time passes along with anniversaries, you go back there, so it sort of has to work on a number of different levels and I think that this could.
The visitor begins at the entrance where an elevated walkway meanders above the landscape through the tranquil native park leading to the Walled Garden. Visitors experience a dignified transition to this ‘other world’ through a threshold comprising of vine covered gabion walls and a rippling line of water that enlivens the powerful entry corridor.
At the heart is the Gathering Place - a multi-purpose open-air pavilion framed by a reflective pond and surrounding picturesque gardens. An adjoining café invites visitors to enjoy a quiet landscaped courtyard with picturesque views and moments of peaceful reflection.
Continuing the ecological response and integrated into the design, are a suite of sustainability initiatives which create an ‘off the grid’ facility placing it at the forefront of self-sufficiency and eco-friendly development in the Australian cemetery industry.