Hofheide Holsbeek: crematorium made of high-tech architectural concrete

STRABAG Belgium nv as Contractors

The Hofheide inter-communal association (IGS) brings together 28 of the 30 municipalities in the district of Leuven as well as the Province of Flemish Brabant. A number of studies have shown that there was a need for a crematorium in the district of Leuven. Therefore, they selected the "Hofheide" location in Holsbeek. The crematorium offers a complete service under one roof. The publicly accessible areas are on the ground floor: two halls, family rooms, furnace entry with separate area for witnessing the entry of the coffin, reception, sanitary facilities, cafeteria and rooms for funeral meals.


STRABAG Belgium was responsible for the new construction of the Hofheide crematorium: carcass, roof covering, full site coordination and organisation of subsidiary contractors. The crematorium was mainly built using regional ironstone-coloured architectural concrete. Rainwater will be captured and buffered for use in the sanitary facilities while excess water will be collected in the pond around the building. The grey water will be purified "on-site" in the treatment plant and discharged to the pond.

Crematorium Hofheide

Coussée & Goris Architecten as Architects

Architecture takes on a very distinct character when death is involved. Death confronts architecture with the passage of time and with the eternal. Through the centuries — as testified by the funerary architecture of ancient Egypt, with its millenniaold pyramids and its sculpture integrated into the landscape — architecture has faced up to the challenge of eternalness with works of stone, marble, granite: durable materials that withstand the test of time. The monumental expressiveness of funerary architecture depends not solely on the immanent strength of natural stone, however.

 

While the Taj Mahal sublimates death in a dazzling display of white marble, the essence of this architecture dedicated to ‘the end’ expresses itself in relation to the even more eternally lasting and, as it were, immaterial components of architecture — namely, water and light. After all, the materials of building seem no less vulnerable than the human frame, and although stone will ultimately crumble into dust, light and the natural elements such as water retain their powerful symbolism of regeneration day after day, year after year, aeon after aeon. Architecture often achieves a mature expressiveness only when natural elements such as water and light cast their sparkle on the dead mass of stone or concrete.

 

Material used :
1. Regional ironstone-coloured architectural concrete
2. Corten Steel

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