The commune of Cormeilles-en-Parisis is seeking to offer a local cremation service, in particular with regard to the reception conditions offered to families and relatives in need of accompaniment and support. The crematorium project should be an important and significant amenity for the town. It should be a multi-faith space where no architectural element makes reference to any particular religion. It should possess essential qualifications such as simplicity, sobriety and readability. The service spaces such as the service core and the technical elements should be hidden from the public spaces.
It is located in a green setting designed to meet the requirements of funeral services. The construction of the facility will complement the landscaping of the connection interfaces of the activity area.
Reflection on this program leads us to contemplate some of the most demanding and richest of architectural sites in our approach. Such sites allow us to express the ethical sense of our discipline. Few programs entail so much emotion, so much of human and cultural richness, but also so many potential pitfalls and risks as those where, at the moment of its disappearance, life appears in all its power. For us, the success of this project lies in its capacity to create the conditions for a dignified and serene experience of one of the most feared moments of our lives, the death of a loved one. What is more, this experience has a very concrete and radical dimension, as it involves the incineration of the body of the deceased. In France, the exponential rise in the number of cremations due to the evolution of customs and traditions questions our cultural reference points about the character of a crematorium.
The result, in symbiosis with the site, involves the development of a spatial facility that is designed to attend to the cultural diversity of human reactions that this event can give rise to. Faced with the emotional intensity of a cremation ceremony, we present an architectural plan that proposes a site open to free interpretation and appropriation by each visitor.
This is manifested in the emergence of a project characterised by the theme of the circle as a universal and timeless symbol. This means the project has no specific religious or philosophical connotation, but encompasses all of them in a symbol that is intended, in the collective imagination, to establish the image of a “secular sacredness” of universal scope.
In this way, the construction of this project will involve the affirmation of an archetype which is based on a strong general image characterized by clearly identifiable themes, namely:
The central place of the deceased.
The circle as universal and timeless symbol.
The removal of signs of everyday life and the clear absence of all “technical” elements.
Fluidity and diversity of routes.
Fusion with the existing landscape and in particular the existing cemetery.
Our specific interpretation of the site led to the creation of a project that reflects and resonates with its environment. This is a serene and luminous response, a symbiosis between a site and a program, which is manifested in the harmonious association between the planting, the landscape and the construction. A landscaped building that accompanies a painful but inescapable moment in our human condition, for which it seeks to provide a dignified and calming setting.