Crematorium Baumschulenweg

‘People die and they are not happy’ – architecture can’t change that. A place of rest, a space for silence: that is something it still manages to provide, despite the fact that not even stones are as heavy as they were in more solid epochs with a firmer belief in the eternal, as in Saqqara, as in Giza, for example.

Our final road is uncertain. Neither church nor temple of the dead offer a model for the path to nothingness or angelhood. In lending shape to freedom and necessity, the intensity, the texture of a Maghreb mosque comes closest to meet the task: a Piazza Coperta, a place in the middle of this cenotaph, where many can assemble and yet the individual is shielded; a catalyst for all our feelings. In this room – 5000 years young – the columns with their capitals of light establish the only reference left to us: a cosmological contrast between populated stacks of clay and the sun with its light.

The ceremonial halls – two for 50, one for 250 people – are simply boxes of split stone, set open-fronted into a second, slat-steered casing of glass: the departed soul, the coffin, the urn has gone before already, into the realm of light, is at one now with the heavens, the clouds, the trees.

Like no other building – the Museum in Bonn and the Chancellery in Berlin are no exceptions – this one reflects the unbroken will of the architects. A hollowed, jointless block 50 by 70 metres, 10 metres deep in the earth, 10 metres high above it, one stone, one grave-stone, insisting on the material consistency of its several spaces. And if there were a word of truth in Ludwig Wittgenstein’s claim that architecture ‘compels and glorifies; that where there is nothing to glorify there can be no architecture’, then this structure glorifies the quintessence of architecture, celebrates space, the silence of walls in light.

SITE

Kiefholzstrasse 222

12437 Berlin

 

TYPOLOGY

Crematorium  condolence hall  administration

 

CLIENT

Lessee

Bezirksamt Treptow von Berlin

Lessor

DEGECIVO Grundstücks-

verwaltungsgesellschaft mbH Eschborn

 

ARCHITECT

Axel Schultes Architekten

Frank   Schultes   Witt

 

DESIGN

Axel Schultes   Charlotte Frank

 

PROJECT MANAGEMENT

Christoph Witt   Margret Kister

 

COLLABORATORS

Andresen   Choeff   Dierks

Helfrich   Schuldes   Waninger

 

COMPETITION  –  COMPLETION

1992  –  2000

 

FOOT PRINT

4.058 m²

 

GROSS FLOOR AREA

9.339 m²

 

HEIGHT

11 m

 

CONSTRUCTION

reinforced concrete   fairfaced concrete

 

PROJECT CONTROLLING

Bonner Ingenieurgemeinschaft Berlin

Dipl.-Ing. Volker Warnat

 

STRUCTURAL ENGINEERS

GSE Ingenieurgesellschaft mbH

IDL

 

BUILDING SERVICES ENGINEER

Brandi Ingenieure

 

PROTECTIVE MEASURES

Dr.-Ing. Manfred Flohrer

 

ACOUSTICS

Akustik Ingenieurbüro Moll GmbH

 

LANDSCAPING

Hannelore Kossel

Strassen- und Grünflächenamt Treptow

 

GENERAL CONTRACTOR

Bilfinger + Berger Bauaktiengesellschaft

Generalunternehmer Berlin

 

PHOTOS

Werner Huthmacher

Reinhard Görner