KABK graduation project 2011
program: interior / architecture / furniture design
location: amsterdam, the netherlands

Opposite Amsterdam central station on the northern banks of the IJ, lies Overhoeks: an area that until a few years ago was owned by Shell. Whilst I was studying this area underwent a transformation; one that had to ensure that Overhoeks thrived just as the city centre does, which lies just 10 minutes away.

The former Shell restaurant in Overhoeks is a low building nestled in a striking parcel of greenery and looks out towards the city across the IJ. For my graduation project I redesignated this building as a funeral home.

Funeral homes are often to be found outside of city centres, away from the hustle and bustle. We prefer not to be confronted with death whilst going about our daily activities. However, a funeral is one of the most important rituals we undergo. Why would we conceal it? The former Shell restaurant literally stands on an intersection in Amsterdam, with the IJ and the city (life) on the one side and the Tolhuistuin with its magnificent trees (peace and quiet) on the other.

For me orientation plays an important role in the ritual of saying goodbye. With this project orientation therefore comprised the founding principle of the design. Using the garden, building, setting and history of the location as the guideline, I devised two trajectories: for one big and one small funeral ceremony. These both start and end in the monumental park. The building is just one component in the trajectory.

http://www.thomasheyer.nl/files/gimgs/th-10_Funeral-schetsen.jpg
 

trajectory

1 entrance to the building from the park
2 wardrobe
3 wall of memories
4 waiting space
5 ceremony hall
6 condolances
7 wardrobe
8 exit from the building towards the park

Instead of designing spaces I started by designing a trajectory; a trajectory with focus and tranquil points, oriented to a specefic point in the area, or on the contrary, introverted. Orientation that endeavours to steer the experience, in a subtle rather than forced way.

From the car park two pathways head in the direction of the building: the trajectories for both a large and a small funeral. This is put together in such a way that both services can interplay simultaneously throughout the day.

The two pathways proceed in long slopes that meet the building. Because one of the slopes comprises the exit for the small ceremony and the entrance of the large ceremony and vice versa, conflicts never arise between the two. The same applies in the building interior: the two trajectories effortlessly interplay.

http://www.thomasheyer.nl/files/gimgs/th-10_Funeral-routing.gif
 
http://www.thomasheyer.nl/files/gimgs/th-10_Funeral-plattegrond-01.jpg
 
http://www.thomasheyer.nl/files/gimgs/th-10_Funeral-plattegrond-02.jpg
 
http://www.thomasheyer.nl/files/gimgs/th-10_Funeral-doorsnede-02.jpg
 

in detail: facade construction

The exterior walls form an important part of the design. Where the façades are closed (as on the image on the right) they must guide one’s sight to the open areas. This is achieved by constructing the façade out of horizontal elements where both direct daylight and indirect artificial light penetrates.

http://www.thomasheyer.nl/files/gimgs/th-10_Funeral-wand-grote-zaal.jpg
 
http://www.thomasheyer.nl/files/gimgs/th-10_Funeral-technisch-01.jpg
 
http://www.thomasheyer.nl/files/gimgs/th-10_Funeral-stappenplan-buitenmuur.gif
 

in detail: interior construction

The construction of the interior spaces is constructed in accordance with a single principle: wooden beams mesh with the existing roof construction of l-profiles.

http://www.thomasheyer.nl/files/gimgs/th-10_Funeral-interior-overview_v2.jpg
 
http://www.thomasheyer.nl/files/gimgs/th-10_Funeral-binnenmuur-groot-02.jpg
 
http://www.thomasheyer.nl/files/gimgs/th-10_Funeral-stappenplan-binnenmuur.gif
 

in detail: interior doors

The interior doors are double-walled with separate hinges. This emanates from the way in which the interior walls are constructed.
There is a technical reason (soundproofing) but also an instinctive reason. Where there is a door one must consciously step from one space to another. The design of the door handles reflects this: whilst opening the door the door handles appear to guide you into the next space.

http://www.thomasheyer.nl/files/gimgs/th-10_Funeral-isoplat-deur.gif
 

in detail: entrance/exit doors

The entrance/exit doors boast pronounced materialisation and design. They are heavier than all the other doors in the building and are made using Cor-ten steel with a blank steel frame.
Throughout the design I have respected the existing lines of the building. These doors are no exception and, likewise, are along these established lines. In order to achieve this it comprises a hollow door, one that opens and closes around an existing column.

http://www.thomasheyer.nl/files/gimgs/th-10_Funeral-entree-view.gif
 
http://www.thomasheyer.nl/files/gimgs/th-10_Funeral-kleine-zaal.jpg
 
http://www.thomasheyer.nl/files/gimgs/th-10_Funeral-grote-zaal.jpg