architecture : urban : visual culture

Ashes to Ashes, Dust to Dust

Cremation is becoming a more popular form of burial especially in places with a rich historical background, where the cemeteries are overpopulated. In response to a serious need for such a place, László Zoltán Szalai designed a crematorium as his diploma project. As a burial site needs to fulfill not just a functional but an emotional want, a careful and attentive work was required on his behalf.

Subject matter - Foreword

Nowadays there is an intense rise in the popularity of cremation and special cremation services. Experts argue that the main reason for this rise is material since a cremation costs less than a traditional burial. In the town where I made my work, there has never been a building for cremation, so locals have to go to the next towns or even the county for this kind of services. In my study, I was engaged in looking for a very needed solution for this situation.

Alternative location for the ashes - architect: László Zoltán Szalai



The design plot is a cemetery, which is situated in the outskirt green area in the upper part of Békéscsaba. In Lipták András street there are three cemeteries side by side: a Catholic, an Evangelical and a memorial site for heroic deaths. In my opinion, these three will merge in the future.

I set a new road across this united cemetery, which is the extension of Kápolna street. (Kápolna street means Chapel street in English) The crematorium would be located in the center of the intersection of Lipták András and the extended Kápolna Street, in front of the extant chapel.

Bird's Eye View - architect: László Zoltán Szalai

Arrival - architect: László Zoltán Szalai


I planned to create a man-made lake, where mourners could scatter the ashes. In my vision, a knell would also erupt from the water of the lake. The bell is made of European larch wood, like the piles of Venetian houses.

Through the cemetery, there would be a special Garden just for bio urns. Bio urns give mourners the ability to grow a beautiful memory tree, plant, or flowers from the ashes of a beloved person.

Crematorium concept

The architecture of this new crematorium seeks to meet both the functional and emotional needs of cremations. A crematorium building has two stories: ground-floor for reception and mourning and a basement for the cremation itself.

From the outside, the building volume is long and low, with the tall Funeral Hall in the middle of the complex. The block of the funeral room is specifically turned a little out from the building, like this the directions are oriented purely North and South.

In the Funeral Hall, the soft natural rays from the skylight and the indoor sheet of water bring a dignified and comforting atmosphere to the congregation. After the funeral/memorial ceremony takes place, the coffin lowers slowly and smoothly into the basement story by a hydraulic lift.

Cross - architect: László Zoltán Szalai


Closely linked to the Funeral Hall, there would be an Inspector Room. From this quiet room, families, friends, and relatives of the deceased have the option to follow the coffin and observe the cremation through a window into the furnace room.

People could wait until the end of the cremation and personally take over the ashes at Recipient Room, which contains a place of worship too.

Inner garden - architect: László Zoltán Szalai


The designed crematorium has some outdoor features too. For example: covered columbarium with a wall of lanterns, open-air memorial wall and even a water fountains also.

Appearance - Materials

I used simple materials for the facade that exude robustness and can stand the ravages of time without effort. In Békéscsaba there is a clay pit, so brick was a reasonable choice. I choose pseudo-archaic, gray, roman scale clinker brick to cover the crematorium. In my graduation project, I try to show the beautiful potential within brickwork and brick design.



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