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kaestle&ocker

2009
Funeral Chapel - Aalen - Germany

The conversion of the forest cemetery funeral chapel in Aalen (built in 1954 by the architect Karl Gonser) left its exterior practically unchanged. Inside, however, an entirely new interpretation by Kaestle Oecker Roeder Architekten reflects the spirit of the original building so much that its redesign is barely discernable by the untrained eye.
Without modifying the basic structure, the architects reinforced the buildings qualities, such as the contrast between exterior and interior form.
For example, beneath the pitched roof one might expect an open space that reaches into the gable. Instead, the ceiling height was limited by an angled intermediate ceiling and accented with four semi-circular reinforced concrete arches.
The architects continued the geometry of the arches in the redesigned hall by installing a shell ceiling: a wicker mesh of stripped willow now shields the mourning room like a canopy.
In addition, they designed new pews made from Canadian birch wood. The artisanal details, the materiality, and the design of the shell hearken back to outstanding examples of regional postwar modernism.
The new unit forms a respectful unity with the old.

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Architecture as Resource / Imprint