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Radcliffe Tower Crematorium

Part 1 Project 2001
Michael Tite
Manchester School of Architecture Manchester | UK
"Dust thou art and unto dust shalt thou return" Genesis 3.19

The programmatic character emerged through the recognition of the site as a composite palimsest of material movements and secretions all with equal meaninglessness. An archaeological site attitude nihilistically recognises all moments and artefacts as transient;

700 year old sandstone of Radcliffe Tower =
discarded Heineken cans of a group of 15 year olds =
dog faeces

The scheme attempts to capitalise on the mourners' temporal disconnectedness by elaborating upon Foucault's heteratopia chimera, generating an isolated condition to elevate the accessing of memory into a metaphysical experience.

As cremation is the transferral of matter (ashes to ashes), an urn stack emerged as an allegory of material movements within the ruin - a concentrated totem.

This marriage of the ruin and the urn stack acts as a fulcrum to the scheme, mediating between the corporeal earthbound solemnity in the secular chapel and the fine lightness of the wooden walkway.

A series of thresholds articulates this spatial hierarchy, organising ritual movements in a generic sequence. The constructed logic further enunciates the mourners' movements through the compressed chapel corpulence to the diametrically opposed catharthis of the expansive landscape.

Michael Tite

Michael Tite has sensitively cross-programmed and re-animated an archaeological site of national significance as crematorium and integrated the site meaningfully with its urban edge and rural wasteland (a reclaimed tip).
Structure, material, detail, space and light combine to give a sensual experience in real time whilst also evoking archaeological history and mortal memory. This phenomenological response is exceptionally well developed also as spatial hierarchy and habitational ritual and movement through built form and landscape, carefully articulated by threshold definition.
Project development communicates a critical analysis and strong theoretical position regarding site and subject, creatively intertwined and resolved at all scales.
The final presentation is clear and well crafted - a combination of modelled, drawn, painted and digital media. Developmental sketchbooks show high levels of engagement, a breadth and rigour of research and development and not least a poetic and creative mind.

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