You are using an older browser version. Please use a supported version for the best MSN experience.

Shape Architecture tops non-denominational centre for remembrance with angular tower

Dezeen logo Dezeen 28/09/2020 Tom Ravenscroft
a building covered in snow: South Haven Centre for Remembrance by Shape Architecture © Provided by Dezeen South Haven Centre for Remembrance by Shape Architecture

Vancouver-based Shape Architecture has unveiled the charred-wood South Haven Centre for Remembrance within a municipal cemetery on the outskirts of the city of Edmonton, Canada.

Built to serve a non-denominational cemetery, Shape Architecture aimed to create a building that was sensitive to its site and conveyed a sense of remembrance without making strong references to religion.

a snow covered slope: Shape Architecture has built the South Haven Centre for Remembrance © Provided by Dezeen Shape Architecture has built the South Haven Centre for Remembrance

"Given the cemetery is non-denominational; the mandate was to create a building that would speak to everyone without any literal references or iconography," said Shape Architecture partner Dwayne Smyth.

"This was one of the most challenging and also motivating drivers behind the evolution of the design as it pushed the design to be continually refined and edited," he told Dezeen. "The result was a project that strives to be timeless and move everyone in some way."

a building covered in snow: The centre for remembrance is semi-submerged in the landscape © Provided by Dezeen The centre for remembrance is semi-submerged in the landscape

Partially submerged in the landscape, the 650-square-metre, single-storey building contains the cemetery's public meeting rooms as well as its offices for maintenance staff and a large garage, which is hidden from the cemetery by a low wall.

These public and staff areas are positioned at either end of the building and divided by a large lobby and reception area that has a full-height window with views across the cemetery.

a view of a snow covered bridge with Riverside Museum in the background: It is topped by an angular tower © Provided by Dezeen It is topped by an angular tower

A 13-metre tall, angular tower, which stands above the public end of the almost entirely black building, marks its position in the cemetery and recalls the form of a gravestone.

At the top of the tower an angled, triangular-shaped window provides light to one of the family meeting rooms and a corridor.

a building covered in snow: The building is clad in burnt wood © Provided by Dezeen The building is clad in burnt wood

"The building emerges from the prairie landscape and stands against the horizon like a grave marker in the field," said Smyth.


Gallery: From drab to dream: amazing home transformations (Lovemoney)

"From the exterior, the tower acts as a marker in the landscape which is symbolically centralised within the cemetery itself," he continued.

"Inside, the tower makes reference to the summer solstice and more specifically; how light enters the tower on that day from dawn to dusk."

a snow covered slope: The black cladding contrasts with the snow © Provided by Dezeen The black cladding contrasts with the snow

Shape Architecture clad the building in a combination of cedar wood slats, burnt using the Japanese shou sugi-ban technique, and black hot-rolled steel panels to create a contrast to the surrounding, often snow-covered, landscape.

"The dark exterior provides high contrast in the winter and is seen as more of a silhouette on the horizon during the spring, summer and autumn," explained Smyth.

"The ephemerality of the interplay of shadows on the snow contrast the permanence of the physical building itself; where remembrance is signified through the interplay of the architecture, nature and time."

a man riding a skateboard up the side of a building: Interiors are light © Provided by Dezeen Interiors are light

In contrast to the black exteriors, both the public and staff areas of the centre's interiors are decorated with light materials.

Birch timber was used to clad some walls and to create in-built furniture, while the upper third of the walls and ceiling were painted white.

a large empty room: Meeting rooms have views out across the landscape © Provided by Dezeen Meeting rooms have views out across the landscape

Other recently completed buildings in cemeteries include a pink pigmented concrete building by David Chipperfield's studio in the Japanese town of Inagawa and a structure in an Italian cemetery made from local limestone stacked in metal baskets.

Photography is by Ema Peter.

Project credits:

Architect: Shape Architecture

Partner in charge: Dwayne Smyth

Project members: Nick Sully, Jessica McGillivray, Benjamin Fisher, Scotty Keck, Avery Titchkosky, Kate Busby, Bill Pechet, Anneliese Fris, James Townsend, Eric Hui

Collaborators: Group2 Architects + PECHET studio

Structural: Fast+Epp

Electrical: Arrow Engineering

Landscape: Design North

Civil: V3

The post Shape Architecture tops non-denominational centre for remembrance with angular tower appeared first on Dezeen.

AdChoices
AdChoices

More from Dezeen

image beaconimage beaconimage beacon