project: cementery in Ostrava site: Ostrava /Czech Republic/ year: 2012 author: lukas cimprich

The local cemetery in Marianske Hory (one of the districts swallowed up today by the town of Ostrava) has passed through many different phases of development. Its origin dates back to 1903, when the business of burying people was not always without problems. The bodies of the deceased were treated individually, with each having a clearly defined space for burial according to whether (or not) a person was a non-believer, a suicide or had died as an unbaptized child. During the 60s of the 20th century, there occurred the first really significant disturbance of the cemetery area. The Vitkovice steelworks had part of the cemetery liquidated and then annexed the ground  for the use of its newly established enterprise. This process involved a kind of macabre roundabout of exhumation & subsequent re-burial. The rectangular form of the cemetery endured afterwards as evidence of its former state, acquiring a triangular shape in later years following the intervention of a road across the area.

As is well known, the cemetery is the place for the final farewell and the subsequent repose of the dead. It is therefore appropriate that its appearance should gives appropriate expression to its role both visually and functionally. The proposal envisages the rehabilitation of the burial grounds, in a way that honors the past. Compared with the urban landscape surounding it, the cemetery is a grey, desolate place which fails to impress, even on a functional level. However, the cemetery holds within it a great energy and has its own specific genius loci. This requires to be highlighted in order to show that even a funeral can be engaging not only to the eye, but also the soul. Since the project seeks to emphasize the more intriguing aspects of the cemetery, the funeral hall should also not be left out. The solution asvanced seeks to meet the standards of contemporary burial practice and the rituals associated with it. In view of the fact that the municipal authorities have no plans to continue with inhumations, it was necessary to create a columbarium. The area is also furnished, and there is a plaque listing the names of those who have been exhumed. In addition, appropriate greenery and a fountain have been added to give the cemetery a more relaxed feel. A cross will be added to provide it all with a focal point. This should act as the dominant feature, drawing the  attention of the observer, almost like a lighthouse on dry land, which for easier navigation radiates spiritual energy instead of light beams.

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