Treptow Crematorium

2008.04.03

A rather photo-heavy post, but excused by the fact that Axel Schultes’ crematorium is such a very photogenic building, particularly the interior.

Treptow crematorium, interior

Schultes is best known for his masterplan of Berlin’s government district around the Reichstag, and his practice’s designs for the Chancellory (Angela Merkel’s formal residence).  Pictures of the Chancelllory are at the end – nothing wrong with the design, which uses some of the same themes and detailing, but somehow the whole building seems vastly overscaled;  the Treptow crematorium is by far the more impressive piece of work.

Anyway, more images of the crematorium…

Treptow Crematorium, interior #2

The columns are arranged apparently randomly around a large central space, off which are four chapels.  In fact, the columns are carefully placed around a small circular fountain/pool in the centre, and subtly aligned with the features of the walls.  The light from the head of each column is daylight – a clever structural arrangement allows for the column to be attached into the side of a circular hole.  I could have spent the whole day just wandering around the place.

Treptow crematorium, central pool

The pool has an egg almost invisibly suspended just above it.  Permanent, or an Easter connection?  Not sure.  Am guessing the former, as it must be quite an operation to set up such an apparently simple thing.

Treptow Crematorium, chapel

One of the four chapels.

 

Treptow crematorium, detail

Curiously, gaps in the floor along the outer walls are filled with fine white sand, lit from beneath the floor level.  Any overt meaning is lost on me.

Treptow Crematorium, approach

Treptow Crematorium, rear

Treptow crematorium

Treptow crematorium

The obligatory ‘angled arty image’.

Treptow Crematorium, funerary urns

Another oddity.  Scattered around the perimeter of the building are hundreds of funerary urns and stones, presumably predating the new crematorium building.  It’s as if the whole structure had just landed on its site, scattering everything that was there.  But quite a deliberate detail, I’m guessing.

Finally, as noted at the top, some images of Schultes’ Bundeskanzleramt, taken on an open day last August (many of the government district’s buildings are open to the public once a year).  In retrospect, I have to say that it all looks more effective in the photos than I remember it on the day.  Maybe it’s the ivy?  Anyway, interesting to note (interesting to me at least) that the same blue anodized metal is used for detailing (railings, vent panels etc) throughout, as in the crematorium.  External columns also follow the same design as the crematorium’s internal space.  Although you can’t really make out the heads of these in the image – it’s that ivy.

Bundeskanzleramt, Berlin, rear elevation

Bundeskanzleramt, Berlin, view from Spree

Schultes’ master plan creates a ‘long thin’ government district which crosses the Spree twice;  the Chancellery gardens are reached across the pedestrian bridge on the left.

Bundeskanzleramt, Berlin, column detail

They need to keep that trimmed back…  (you can make out Hugh Stubbins’ Haus der Kulturen der Welt in the background). 

Bundeskanzleramt, Berlin, detail

Note the blue metal detailing – not 100% sure that I like the effect.  But the ivy looks good.

4 comments

  1. hi!

    is the crematorium always open for public? or at least the room with the columns?

    that building does look spectacular in photos and is one of my must-visit sights when in berlin (coming in march, wohoo!).

    cheers!

    jarmo k, January 26, 2009
  2. Hi Jarmo
    Yes, I think it’s open pretty much all the time. As long as you’re not in a group, they seem to be OK if you just wander round. There was a funeral actually going on while I was there, so it’s important to stay out of the way and be respectful. If you’re in a group, it would be best to contact them and make a special arrangement I guess.
    The building is essentially the space with the columns with several ‘chapels’ leading off it, so is easy to access, and really does look as impressive as in the pictures. Let me know if there’s anything I can help with re your trip!
    Jim

    jimnkatie, January 26, 2009
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