This project made its way around the internets earlier this year, but I just recently came across it and thought it was simply too noteworthy to pass up. Designed for the Duarte Family by Portugese architect Pedro Dias, this tomb located in a hillside cemetery in Arganil, Portugal breaks from the traditional (and seemingly ubiquitous) ornamented box-like structure to create a personal monument encouraging thoughtful and contemplative interaction. Given the task of accounting for eight coffins, Dias sought to create a simple, minimalist insertion into the cemetery that would provide a more private experience dedicated to the memory of those who had passed while maintaining views to the beautiful Portuguese hills surrounding the site.
The major â€“ and most obvious â€“ move away from the traditional family tomb is the opening-up of the structure to frame the hillside beyond while providing a semi-enclosed space for both funeral ceremonies and subsequent visits by family members and friends. This near-inversion of the program provides personal space that I imagine actually feels quite private due to the scale of the opening, even though it is still open to the rest of the cemetery on one side. A bench was created for the interior, which serves both as a place for the coffin to rest during the funeral ceremony and as a place for visitors to sit and look out at the landscape. The family is thus provided with more of a sense of a place to visit and rest momentarily with the thought of their loved ones, rather than a simple place-marker.
The tomb is clad in a dark granite on the outside faces, contrasting with stainless-steel panels on the interior. The material choice further emphasizes â€˜insideâ€™ vs â€˜outsideâ€™, adding to the sense of the creation of a more private space for the family. The choice of the dark granite is also a departure from the colors of the other tombs within the cemetery â€“ which, combined with the minimalist & contemporary frame-like shape quietly emphasizes the uniqueness of the Duarteâ€™s tomb.
I really appreciate the idea that this (in theory) transforms the experience of visiting a deceased loved-one from something I find to be a little like interacting with a sign-post to more of an engaging experience.Â The tomb transforms the typical visit, serving as much more of a memorial by simply providing â€˜spaceâ€™ to the family and nothing more. Fairly brilliant, really.
More of Diasâ€™ work (and more photos of this project)can be found at his blog.