Radom Municipal Cemetery’s columbarium: a place for memory and meditation
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Radom Municipal Cemetery’s columbarium: a place for memory and meditation

A project to reorganize the cemetery has created a gathering place for the complex and a new model for mourning the deceased

BDR Architekci

Radom Municipal Cemetery’s columbarium: a place for memory and meditation
By Editorial Staff -

Radom Municipal Cemetery is among the largest in Poland. Opened in 1957, it has expanded rapidly over the years and now occupies over 74 acres (30 ha). Concerned that this extra land was being taken from nearby forests, in 2017 the Municipality of Radom announced a competition for the construction of a columbarium with 2000 niches and the replanning of the central area of the cemetery. The area in question lies at the intersection of the three main pathways and is the site of a mortuary, built in the 1980s, which was also a focus of the project.

The winning design, submitted by BDR Architekci, centers on the idea of dividing the space into a series of volumes that offer privacy while interacting with one another to create a small gathering place.

 

Intimate volumes

Columbarium Complex at Municipal Cemetery in Radom, Poland ©Jakub Certowicz, courtesy of BDR Architekci

The architects designed the columbarium as six separate structures, each one, like the separate rooms of a house, providing a place for private meditation and prayer. Built to different heights, the volumes form a central courtyard on the site where a chapel was once planned. This courtyard is for meetings, worship and prayer, and other functions for the entire cemetery. Each volume is then designed as a walled courtyard, with the façades closed to the outside to provide privacy inside, where the niches are arranged. The tallest and largest volume incorporates the existing mortuary, which has been expanded with a smaller volume on its western side and a wall to the north, which creates another small courtyard and acts as a unifying element with the rest of the composition.

 

Technology and local materials

Columbarium Complex at Municipal Cemetery in Radom, Poland ©Jakub Certowicz, courtesy of BDR Architekci

The use of zero-mile natural materials is a feature of the project. The simple, linear shapes of the volumes are underscored by their locally quarried sandstone block finish, whose bright color lightens the architecture. The volumes are constructed using precast concrete elements on reinforced concrete foundation slabs. The different height of each creates a sense movement both horizontally and vertically. The inside walls of the volumes are punctuated by the geometries of the niches, which have sandstone shelves and plaques that open and close. Seating in the central courtyard was made of solid local timber. A great deal of attention was given to lighting design in this space, with strips of lights embedded in the paving marking the way to the individual volumes and the niches lit by lights positioned in the eaves. Brought into the project to create surfaces and carvings, local artisans and stonecutters were a fundamental part of the project.

Along with the architecture, the project also involved the planting of 50 Scots pines, a typical local species that adds a living presence to the complex. Designed to reflect the project as a whole, the plantings define pathways and gathering points.

>>> Also read about the expansion of San Mauro Torinese Cemetery by Raimondo Guidacci

Credits

Location: Radom, Poland
Architects: BDR Architekci (Konrad Basan, Paweł Dadok, Maria Roj, Michał Rogowski)
Completion: 2023 
Client: Municipality of Radom 
Build up Area: 516 m2
Plot area: 7.400 m2 
General Contractor: Korporacja Budowlana Darco
Structural engineer: TMJ Projekt 
Services engineer:: Joanna Szczudlik 
Electrical engineer: Jarosław Maleńczyk 
Landscape architect: La.Wa Architektura Krajobrazu - Łukasz Kowalski 

Photography by Jakub Certowicz, courtesy of BDR Architekci

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