The dynamic between heaven and earth, between life and death, is an eternal question, unanswerable solely with logic, it requires a combination of an open mind and a gentle heart. For architecture to approach these questions in a meaningful way we might turn to symbolism to engage the intellect and emotional experience to spark the imagination. The role of architecture here is to provoke, to tempt, to invite the participation of the user, but to do so in a way that asks profound questions, that encourages the user to explore, rather than attempting to provide simple answers to complex issues.
The design for a Columbarium at St Johns Episcopal Church starts with the concept that life is a journey, a pathway, a collection of moments. That in this journey life reveals itself slowly and at its own pace, you move forward when you are ready.
This is journey is rarely linear… your approach starts with a low wall that gently arcs, gracefully rising to invite you in, to entice you to explore further. Warm stone walls project a sense of history, of gravitas, a rootedness in the earth. As the first rises, another wall arcs overhead forming a gateway, a threshold towards sacred ground.
The rise and fall of these arcs imply the up and downs life presents us as we make our journey. The space they create is of a deeply human scale, it decompresses you and offers a moment of reflection. On the walls are a combination of living poetry and memorial plaques to those who have passed into the next life. Some memorials are faced with the historic richness of bronze, while other are faced with backlit frosted glass, providing an ethereal glow when night falls. As the space between these walls expands and contracts the intimacy created by this enclosure holds you firmly grounded, and yet at the same time, uplifts your perspective to embrace the vast expansiveness of the sky and the richness of the heavens.
These serpentine walls overlap, crisscrossing like a Celtic knot, providing a sense of movement that symbolizes the interconnectedness of all things in life and nature, and in the context of a columbarium with a question of eternity, the fundamental nature of the human condition and what lies beyond.
Here, in the quiet moment these stone walls provide, we can ask these profound questions at our own pace and within the space of our own hearts.
Institutional - Religious
Episcopal Church of St. John the Baptist