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The Remembrance of Things Past

Part 1 Project 2013
Tony Lees
University of Liverpool | UK
“In the same way as in art and literature, but in a less easily ignored way, architecture contributes to our collective memory”, Adam Caruso.

There is an unavoidable dialogue between building and place. The crematorium fully absorbs its purpose and context, allowing it to inform the essence of its architecture, and vibrates with the history of all those that made the journey before, helping to create genuine and lasting memories.

A single linear process guiding you through the architecture parallels the different stages of life, grieving, memory and the crematorium itself. The journey of the path and its sense of progression becomes a metaphor for the whole project. Enhanced through sensual stimulation, water guides you on the journey, first through sound, then through sight, then as a guiding path giving life to a vibrant garden of wild flowers revealing entrances to memorial spaces. Traces of those before you and the world around you are imprinted upon the building, creating a deep sense of oneness in this intervention reinforcing a worldly connection with the earth and things primitive. It is an open air space occupying a site sensitive to an existing route; merely becoming a temporary meander from the usual treaded path. Eventually you re-join the path that is Otterspool Park and continue onwards, not looking back, but looking forward with the memory of those dear to you.

The building finds its being in the existence of the forest. How can a material interact emotionally with a human being? The impersonal nature of concrete takes on a familiarity and atmospheric quality that conjures up memories and emotions of the past by taking on textures, plays of light, shadows, and smells of the forest around it, all of a more personal and base human connection. Like chiaroscuro the building becomes a perforated canopy of trees, and shows the imprint of burnt out branches whilst smells lingers on. An active exploration has been made in to the inherent memory of materials, or rather, how a material manifests itself, whilst the contextual nature of the building leads to a more powerful and holistic experience.

Tony Lees


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