Mortuary at Asker crematorium
Asker, Norway 2000
The mortuary is an addition to Asker crematorium and chapel, built in the late nineteen fifties*. The
program is a coffin receiving room (ceremony room), a room for preparation of the corpse, and an
outdoor court. The small entrance area connecting the mor
tuary to the old building, serves as a place to
hand over the urn after the cremation. A specific demand was to keep possible further additions on the
north side of the mortuary.
The corpse is brought to the entrance by car and carried into the receiving
room by the relatives. There is
a silent ceremony, usually with the coffin open, where the relatives spend the last moments with the
deceased. The outdoor court is a room for reflection, and to wait for the family members who remain
inside. A sliding door
facing the parking area allows the main door to stay open during the ceremony.
The court has a view towards the graveyard. The preparation room is normally used by the undertaker,
but also by families who want to take part in the preparation of the dead b
The white clay brick measures 85 x 85 x 285 mm. All walls are load
bearing masonry. The ceremony
room has a brick vault, while the other rooms have horizontal concrete slabs. The slabs resist the
pressure forces from the vault, statically replacing
tension rods in the ceremony room. Interior brick
surfaces exposed to water are glazed clear, which give the brick a greyish uneven colour, caused by salts
in the clay. Floors are ground concrete. Doors and windows are pine wood, treated with a glossy oil.
Fittings for lighting and candles are sandblasted stainless steel. The tree in the court is a wild cherry tree,
and will eventually create a roof of branches. The steel sculptures in the ceremony room and court are by
the artist Per Inge Bjørlo.
ect of the project intrigued me throughout the design process: Even though the mortuary is
religiously neutral, many features of the building quite soon presented themselves as metaphors. The
proportions of the rooms, the geometry, the light, the fixtures
and even the small stones in the concrete
floors seemed to attract symbolic meaning. I am still not sure whether this aspect is actually present in
the building, or just brought to the surface of my mind by the program alone.
*) Blakstad and Munthe
Per Inge Bjørlo
The local county of Asker