As the design phase of the project began, several opportunities evolved from the original building program and thesis concept. The programming document only described the design of a funeral home as an addition to an existing cemetery. I realized that a more integrated approach was needed between the funeral home and cemetery. The two had to work as a constant dialogue, not merely a movement from one to another. The functions of the funeral home (offices, chapel, preparation rooms, morgue, storage, etc) created several distinct areas of activity which needed to be separate from one another. Instead of designing a single building with these distinct zones, several different structures were created. These buildings are: processing, reception, viewing, chapel, crematory, mausoleum and meditation/reflection. The design of a true necropolis evolved. The various buildings are located throughout the site with a plan organization based upon the human body. A water spine or aqueduct runs the length of the site and serves as a primary organizational link between various buildings and locations.

Model Views from the South

Sketch Section Through Chapel

Detail of Steel Structure and Fabric Fastener

Shown here is a model of the chapel, one of the most public and significant buildings on the site. The man-made aqueduct passes through the building on the eastern (right) side and a natural stream is located to the west (left). Mourners enter the building from the south and are seated facing north, looking out towards a large existing grove of trees. Five columns on each side of the chapel support a steel structure and fabric roof. The roof structure and supporting stone and concrete columns are lifted on the eastern side. This allows the rising morning sun to illuminate the latticework of structure above and protects the building interior from western light later in the day. Water run-off from the roof is collected and diverted towards the natural stream.

As the funeral service ends and the body is transported, mourners walk from the chapel to the cemetery. They exit to the east, passing under the aqueduct and stand within a deep chasm. Progressing up a long ramp, the mourners slowly ascend upwards into full daylight and arrive at the level of the cemetery.

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