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After reading about the Meiso no Mori crematorium in Japan I felt I should share some of the information and images with you. In my mind It seems truly elegant, functional, magnificent and inspirational. All the more so because it's main construction fabric is concrete!
Here are some comments and description of the building from around the web:
Meiso no Mori” was planned to reconstruct a decrepit crematorium as part of a cemetery in a park. This cemetery, which is currently being developed, is located in a serene site, nestled in mountains with various trees and plants in the south and facing a pond in the north. The design brief called for a sublime space appropriate to give the last honors to the deceased, while subtly integrating the surrounding landscape of the park cemetery. Our idea was to respond not with a conventional massive crematorium but with an architecture of a spacious roof floating above the site like slowly drifting clouds creating a soft field. We investigated a freely curved reinforced-concrete shell structure to construct a roof characterized by concavities and convexities. The shape of the roof structure was determined by an algorithm generating the optimum structural solution. Since this type of structural analysis resembles the growth patterns of plants which keep transforming following simple natural rules, the process is called “evolution.”
Toyo Ito designed the Meiso no Mori (Forest of Meditation) Funeral Hall crematoria for the “park cemetery” at Kakamigahara City, in Gifu Japan. Completed in 2006, the seamless white concrete flows freely alongside a reflective lake with glass underneath. Gentle snowfall had settled lightly upon the site to form a broad and generous roof.Project architect Leo Yokota said the team didn’t seek a monument or stately ediface, but a “gentle snowfall had settled lightly upon the site to form a broad and generous roof.”
Developed in collaboration with engineer Mutsuro Sasaki, Ito’s concept for the (Meiso no Mori) funeral hall was borne out of a desire to merge evocative symbolism with a logical structural rationale. The flowing plane of white concrete is reminiscent of the smoke that rises from the cremation furnaces, while also appearing as a part of the landscape, connecting ground, sky, lake and hill.
To create a structure that is at once ethereal and permanent, Ito sought to produce a wafer-thin shell of concrete that would appear to float despite the material's inherent heaviness. In order to achieve this effect, the formwork took on a vital role, and it was employed in a manner that evoked the ceremonial process of the crematorium itself. As Windeck explains, “The formwork is the actual architecture, and the concrete is only there to document it in order to permanently preserve its memory, just as a death mask is made to preserve the facial features of a departed person.”