Next to the Kennemer Dune in Driehuis (The Netherlands), lies Westerveld Cemetery & Crematorium. The layout of the cemetery is designed by landscape architect Zocher and was the country’s first crematorium. So the history of Westerveld is linked to the history of burial and cremation in the Netherlands.
Within this mindset, a couple of additions are made to support the rituals at this cemetery. The additions are designed to support the process after the cremation, however, each object is also open to different interpretations by visitors. The additions are each related to nature, nature or the beautiful scenery of Westerveld is been used to provide the right atmoshpere in each stage of the rituals after the cremation.
After the cremation, normally the ashes are put behind doors and the relatives can come back in three weeks to scatter the ashes of their beloved one. The ceremonial space is placed on the edge of the forest and the cemetery. This circular form is divided in two spaces. An outer ring and an inside space. The outer ring can be seen as a garden, instead of placing the urn, including the ashes, behind doors it is placed in this garden. Here the urn and the ashes are introduced to nature. After three weeks the people come back to scatter the ashes. The inside space provides a place for remembrance and last goodbyes before entering the forest.
When leaving the ceremonial space, the people will see an open spot in the forest. Thin concrete collums are in dialogue with the existing tree trunks. As the people move closer to the concrete collumns, they will encounter a stair which leads to an observatory tower. Here people can sense the fragility of life as they slowly move upwards. Finally on top of the observatory tower a platform, above the trees, will provide an overview on the forests, the dunes and even the sea. It evokes a feeling of how beautiful life is. After this experience the beloved ones can scatter the ashes in the forest.
On the cemetery different objects are positioned to create a place for remembrance. People visit the cemetery in different stages of their lives and those objects can be interpreted by everyone differently. They can light up a candle and sit and think about the memories they shared with their beloved ones.
Around the three objects (ceremonial space, observatorytower and memory holders) and the entrance a reoccuring pattern is created. This pattern could evoke memories over time. The pattern could evoke a memory one had at the ceremony or while remembering memories at a memory holder. Over time those patterns could be a trigger for a memory.