Chapel of the Dead
The parish church of St. Martin (1802-1807), together with the adjoining cemetery and the newly planned funerary chapel, form a structural and functional unit, which is clearly visible from afar on a moraine terrace above the village of Buochs. The new mortuary chapel replaces a predecessor building built in 1959, which was no longer able to meet the future space requirements of the Catholic parish. The new building was precisely inscribed into the existing situation and positioned on the outer western edge of the terrace. The mortuary chapel is thus clearly visible from the village and is read as part of the entire ecclesiastical complex.
Building and Exterior
The new funerary chapel serves as a space of transitory state between death as the end of life and burial in the cemetery. This principle is shaping the entire design. The polygonal volume has an expressive shape that is appropriate to the building task and reminiscent of old baroque chapel buildings in the region. The new building is slightly turned off to the axis of the church and together with it the new church square. This is in spite of increasing the volume of the funeral chapel in comparison to the previous building generous and thus better for different occasions of the church usable. By deduction of the volume of the new building takes on the one hand reference to the entrance of the church and the other to the cemetery. It thus forms not only the spiritual, but also the spatial joint between life and death. The new church square is designed in the same way as the existing square with paving stones and is understood as part of the entire exterior design of the existing church complex. It consciously refrains from overmeshing the square with vegetation, installations, etc., in order to give the place a quiet atmosphere appropriate to its use. The solidity of the layout is also reflected in the appearance of the new building. On the one hand, the sculpted monolithic façade of white grooved plaster surfaces creates an external relationship to the secular buildings of the immediate vicinity, and on the other hand it refers to a sacred building due to its seclusion and expressivity. The triangular pediment front, which is located precisely opposite the entrance to the church, marks the entrance into the mortuary chapel together with the incision below. The pre-zone, glazed in a warm, cracked white tone, is not only an input gesture, but also makes it possible to create a covered area for the farewell and waiting people. Above the floor plan, a tiled roof that conforms to the polygonal volume folds in, familiar and protective at the same time.
Hexagon and Christian Symbolism
The floor plan of the death chapel is based on the hexagon, which is taken up in various scales and details in the new building. In the architecture of Christianity, the use of the hexagon is based on the symbolism of the number six, whose meaning results from the sum of the first three numbers (1 + 2 + 3) and their numerical symbolism. They and the hexagon symbolize the omnipotence of God in Christianity. But they also stand for the balance and harmony of the divine and worldly.
Architecture and Interior Structure
You enter the building through a heavy, double-winged brass door with leather handles. In the case of a ceremony, the door can be opened completely to the outside. So a flowing transition from the meeting hall to the church square is possible. After entering the hall, the bright, warm-lit room opens up to the sky. The inner roof looks textile and seems to float in the room. Together with the bright polygonal stone floor, the center of the chapel appears almost dematerialized.
The extensive walls, on the other hand, are slurried pasty in an intense ultramarine blue. Together with the space zones designed as niches for the “Katafalk” and the urn rack, whose ceiling is painted in a deep dark black blue, creates an exciting depth in the room. The deep blue based on the Christian iconography symbolizes the desire for the connection with the sky. If you enter one of these niches to say goodbye to a deceased person, you will experience the place of the highest concentration and intimacy. In addition to the main utility rooms are the serving rooms, such as the preparation room and the sanitary room discreetly in the mantle area of the chapel. The access to the toilet takes place outside the church square, in order to prevent a disturbance of the actual use of the building. In the basement, the necessary storage and ancillary rooms are placed.
Light and Atmosphere
The building and its use require a specific lighting mood appropriate to the use. From the public square you first get into a sheltered shady forecourt where a first gathering can take place. Then you enter the lighted collection room, which is illuminated by three natural light sources. The above-described heavenly, zenithally shining light and a lateral light penetrating into the room from the north and south through a vertical window shape the atmosphere of the room and give it a solemn, reverent atmosphere. In addition, this lighting mood can be modified depending on the time and use by additional artificial light. Thus, the central interior can be enlightened by a starry sky of fine brass plates as a "sky tent". In addition, illuminated in the niche ceilings golden filaments discreetly illuminate the “Katafalk”.
Construction and Materialization
The exterior painted white and with a vertical grooved concrete facade allows the desired monolithic appearance of the building. The roof is made of a wooden construction covered with a ventilated tile roof made of plain tile similar to the church. The roof edge was formed with an elegant copper ring, which also absorbs the drainage. The inner walls are also solidly constructed. The roof cladding is made of brightly painted 3-layer boards and the floor of natural stone mosaic. The entire basement floor will be left in untreated concrete surfaces following use.