In cities or villages, regardless of where we live, mortality is the destiny shared by us all.
When its inevitability is a given, how do we handle death? Aside from the ancient traditions and rituals, what are our alternative options in terms of commemorating and perceiving death – whether it is the passing of our beloved ones, or the end of our own journey of life?
Bearing these queries in mind, we have started the design of the Memorial Hall at Longshan Cemetery and continued to seek for the answers throughout.
▼项目概览，general view ©张超
Longshan Cemetery is located on the barren hills west of Caipo Village. It mainly serves residents of Jiaozuo City and the rural neighborhood of Xiuwu County, Henan Province, China.
▼场地鸟瞰，aerial view ©张超
The site of the Memorial Hall is located at the northwest corner of a backfilled mine area at the entrance of the main campus, and is triangular in shape; directly to the north, the plot is adjacent to the incinerating area where mourners would burn incense sticks and money as part of the traditional ritual, while to its west is the campus vehicular road as well as the main reception area. As a result, the surroundings of the site are relatively chaotic.
▼场地平面图和项目模型，site plan & project model ©Studio 10 ©郑航天
项目业主为其命名“不朽堂”，这一名字本身即体现了拥有有限生命的人类对“永恒”的渴望；而事实上，经历、目睹死亡或许正是人们得以最接近于窥探“不朽”奥秘的时刻 —— 在这一刻，我们与自然联结最为紧密，藉死亡以再次印证自我与万物的相互联系，而非终极的分离、断绝。
The memorial hall was named by the owner Hall of Immortality, because we are essentially all “mortal”. However, experiencing and witnessing death may be one of those moments in life when we get closest to Immortality – it is one when we are most intimately connected with Nature, that reaffirms through “mixing forever with the elements” our eternal interconnection with everything else instead of the “ultimate separation”.
▼“不朽堂”外观，exterior view of the memorial hall ©张超
因此，我们希望营造一个安静、内向的沉思场所，使人们远离园区此起彼伏的悲泣声、穿梭的电瓶车和祭拜焚烧的烟尘余烬，专注于感受建筑中与生命密切相关的自然基本元素：光、水、土、天空、云、石、树 —— 既是生命终点，更是起点，暗含生生不息的循环。
In order to create a space where one can stay away from the sobbing, groans, the dust and smoke from the traditional burning ritual as well as the shuttle golf carts, we have enclosed the triangular plot with high walls on all three sides, leaving only a narrow slit on the south end; the space was meant to be a quiet and introverted place for contemplation – focusing on emotions, senses and the fundamental elements of nature that are presented in the space: light, water, soil, sky, clouds, rocks and trees- These are not only the end, but also the starting point of life, an infinite cycle.
▼建筑立面，the facade ©张超
Mourners would wash their hands at the fountain upon entry, then head to the perimeter walkway enclosed by high walls. Through the narrow gap between the eaves of the dark entrance porch with low ceiling height and the perimeter wall, a strip of sky and a few cypresses are revealed. You almost do not feel the presence of the incinerating area at the other side of the wall; while waiting to enter the main venue, one can sit on the benches under the porch quietly and get a sense of the changing clouds, light and shadow through that gap.
▼礼堂建筑入口，entrance to the hall ©张超
▼入口喷泉水池，the fountain at the entrance ©张超
through the narrow gap between the eaves of the dark entrance porch, a strip of sky and a few cypresses are revealed
▼长凳等候区，seating area ©张超
Entering the main hall, light would gradually change from dark to bright, pouring down from the main skylights above the marble Urn Altar at the far end as well as from the narrow slots on the sides. A stream of water tickling down the gutter along the wall is connected to the fountain at the entrance, forming an endless cycle while introducing the gurgling sound of nature into the space.
▼礼堂主厅，the main hall ©张超
light pours down from the main skylights above the Altar at the far end as well as from the narrow slots on the sides
▼沿墙的一圈细流，a stream of water tickling down the gutter along the wall ©张超
Custom-made bronze Eternal Lamp, door handles and skirting lights are all triangular in profile, which coincides with the shape of building plan; the perfect geometry of the equilateral triangle implies the immaculacy of life, the circulation of energy and the transcendence of dimensions.
▼室内细节，interior details ©张超
The carefully designed one-way circulation in and out of the complex ensures the privacy of each mourner; after the ceremony, the mourners can pass through the walled walkway on the other side to the exit, where before leaving, the sound of flowing water at the fountain can be heard once again.
▼喷泉细节，fountain detailed view ©张超
▼场地剖面图，site section ©Studio 10
▼平面图，plan ©Studio 10
▼立面图，elevation ©Studio 10
▼剖面图，section ©Studio 10
项目设计 & 完成年份：设计：2019；完成：2020
Project name：Hall of Immortality at Longshan Cemetery
Principal-in-charge: Shi Zhou
Design Team：An Huang, Chunhui Mo, Xin Zheng, Hao Wu(Intern), Liangyu Shen(Intern), Yue Yu(Intern), Zhenjie Chen(Intern), Feifei Chen(Project Assistant), Jiaxiao Bao(Project Assistant), Ming Tang(Project Assistant) (in alphabetical order)
Project location：Longshan Cemetery, Jiaozuo, Henan Province, China
Gross Built Area (square meters)：93㎡
Photo credits：Chao Zhang, Bruce Zheng
Graphic Design Consultant: SURE Design
Lighting Design Consultant：Matt Lighting Design Associates
Clients：Xiuwu County Longshan Cemetery / Xiuwu County Xiu Xin Shang Wu Cultural Development Co., Ltd.