AND CENTRAL PARK TURNHOUT
OFFICE Kersten Geers David Van Severen
The crematorium is an important public building. It has, however, an ambiguous relationship with self expression, torn between its own technical content and its ceremonial character. To overcome this, we designed the building as a big inclined table, of which the roof is the protagonist. As a ‘nature morte’ developed together with the artist Richard Venlet, it is intended to communicate its particular public content. The big roof itself is placed within a carefully orchestrated landscape designed by Bureau Bas Smets, a set of new landscape elements populating a site in the polders around the coastal city of Ostend. Under the inclined roof one finds a mix of public, administrative and technical functions in a single story building. The roof is dotted by roof lights and abstract shapes that answer both technical and symbolical requirements. Its spaces are organized in lateral strips of various widths, containing reception areas, waiting rooms and the centrally located ceremonial halls, alternated by thin bands of auxiliary functions and passages. The crematoria are located under the highest point of the building. The relation of the spaces to the surrounding landscape is indirect, and mediated through a double facade of glass and perforated metal panels, allowing for a discrete and serene atmosphere in the halls. The twist in direction between the programmatic strips and that of the roof surfaces creates a continuous set of triangular spaces of varying height, which function as a covered arcade around the building.
In the medium-sized city of Turnhout, part of the ring road will be tunneled, freeing an area between the centre and the city park. The Master plan for this area comprises of several interventions, re-instating the existing park as a ‘Central Park’ for Turnhout. The key element is a dike above the half-submerged tunnel. The dike formalizes a new urban edge and extends the park over the ring road towards the city. It is at the same time a barrier to and vantage point over the park. In the park itself several scenic interventions enforce the existing structure. At the other side of the dike a row of 4 towers, evenly spaced, marks the southern limit of the city. The proportion of the towers allows for different programs, living, offices and the extension of the neighboring hospital. Between the towers low rise buildings are developed around courtyards which open towards the park.
OFFICE Kersten Geers David Van Severen was founded in 2002 by Kersten Geers and David Van Severen. OFFICE is renowned for its idiosyncratic architecture, in which realisations and theoretical projects stand side by side. The projects are direct, spatial and firmly rooted in architectural theory. The firm reduces architecture to its very essence and most original form: a limited set of basic geometric rules is used to create a framework within which life unfolds in all its complexity.