Zorgvlied Crematorion, situated in the historical Zorgvlied Cemetery in Amsterdam, opened last spring. The word Crematorion is composed of the words cremate and Orion (constellation), and represents a new approach to cremation allowing mourners to accompany the remains of their beloved ones as far as possible towards the cremation furnace. GROUP A has designed the innovative structure in such a way it facilitates this new approach.
A fitting way of leave-taking The Crematorion is a stand-alone building, housing a cremation furnace and processing room, separate from the usual auditorium. The structure is designed to focus the minds on the ritual of leave-taking. It is designed to evoke personal involvement, allowing each participant to shape it and give it meaning in his or her own particular way. The farewell ceremony may be held in the auditorium of Zorgvlied or elsewhere – even at home. After this ceremony, the relatives accompany the remains of their dear deceased loved one through the beautiful grounds of Zorgvlied to the Crematorion. The next of kin get to choose whether they want to leave the casket in the special forecourt, or whether they want to enter it into the furnace themselves. The furnaces opening is connected directly to the outside. Also, unlike a regular service at a crematorium, all invitees can be present at the moment the casket enters the furnace. It allows differing cultures the opportunity of taking leave in their own way, employing the rituals they consider most appropriate.
Ritual in architecture and environment The 16-metre high Crematorion is carefully embedded in the leafy surroundings of the cemetery and the vegetation on both sides of the path continues rising along the walls of the exterior. The Crematorion has a base made of stone and a light, tent-like superstructure over it, ending into a glass covered opening. The contrasting materials symbolise the tension between the heaviness of the earth and the insubstantiality of the heavenly and spiritual. The opening in the top is oriented to the sun and the rotation in the tent-structure stems from the difference between the incidence of sunlight and the direction of the site. Daylight comes from above into the forecourt, where it illuminates the glass mosaic wall. This wall also separates the forecourt from the technical area of the Crematorion.
The final journey The distinctive pavilion is a friendly and recognizable building, with its subtle hints of something higher than the earthly sphere. In GROUP A's design, the routing through the historic Cemetery - the journey of the deceased and the next of kin, from the auditorium to the Crematorion - plays an important role. The verticality of the design reinforces the idea of the spirit of the departed, rising to the imaginary stars. It helps to turn this final journey into a meaningful ritual.