Every culture has its own way of dealing with contemplation on and saying farewell to life. On the other hand, society is constantly changing. Cultures and religions fuse together, changing views and options with regard to saying goodbye and spirituality. This has consequences for the buildings that fulfil these needs. Churches, crematoriums and cemeteries should be in respectful keeping with the personal realization of the different needs and wishes, fitting in with the cultural values concerned.
With great respect for culture and religion, our designs meet the strong need for reflection, meditation and contemplation
Churches are special buildings with a unique position in society. Together with the church community, we seek out the essence and translate that into that one, unique building. A building oriented towards meeting and experiencing. A building that evokes the right feeling.
The way people experience a church is connected to the specific events that take place inside it, and with the church community's views on its role in society, its mission and history. Often, two or more church communities will decide to continue on a path together, each contributing its own identity. We translate these contributions to a well-adjusted building that is more than the building it has replaced. The end result is a building that offers an additional dimension to fulfilling the church community's role.
Many Dutch public service buildings have what we call a 'silence centre', a place for contemplation and reflection, where silence, meditation or prayer can help you find peace with your own thoughts and feelings. A silence centre is open at all times and to everyone, regardless of your outlook on life. This is a place where you can practice your spirituality based on your own views and beliefs. In hospitals especially, silence centres meet a strong need for contemplation, reflection and consideration. This is a deep need that our designs meet in a respectful manner.
The funeral sector finds itself with a new task; less univocal and much more complex than that of the final decades of the previous century, when demand was relatively homogeneous and the task mainly quantitative. First of all, it must meet a growing demand and capacity for funerals. At the same time, gradual changes in society lead to a qualitative change in what is asked from the funeral sector: the taboo on illness and death is slowly disappearing. This means that the way we say goodbye to life is changing, taking place in relative openness. In addition, the emphasis on the individual is increasing. Which in turn leads to a large variety in personal wishes and needs. These days, the funeral parlour is a building that is firmly embedded in society, able to take on anything, but is never forcing or constraining.
Cremations occur every day, but for the bereaved, it is a unique and emotional event. An event that temporarily stops the passage of time, and that people want to experience in their own circle, in their own way and in keeping with their own customs and rituals. Just like funeral parlours, crematoriums must also try to meet the wishes our multicultural society has with regard to mourning and death. A good crematorium emphasizes the event's uniqueness. It offers room for emotions, supports new customs and ceremonies and always contributes to the mourners' good memories.
Over the past years, EGM architects has finished a number of innovative crematoriums. Leading examples are the Essenhof in Dordrecht, and the Rusthof in Amersfoort. In the case of the Essenhof, we simultaneously took a large step forward with regard to the application of sustainable energy models, a highly topical issue at the moment. We further developed our knowledge of this sector, which is embedded in society, by making study designs for the Nieuw Vennep and Gorinchem crematoriums. Our document 'Landschappen voor de dood' (Landscapes for death) is about tying an architectonic concept with a high practical value to the cityscape and the landscape.