Margot Krasojević's architecture has been featured a number of times in New Atlas, and for good reason. The futuristic aesthetic as well as the eco and energy efficiency considerations she incorporates into her projects makes for some fascinating concepts. The latest project from her London-based practice is a crematorium, memorial space and – if the renderings are anything to go by – a skatepark.
From an offshore floating prison (which also generates power for the mainland) to a house which digs itself into the ground when a hurricane hits, and a sustainable hotel which moves with the tide, Krasojević's otherworldly, parametric style is inspiring, sometimes confusing, but always mesmerizing.
The work seems almost to be a form of architectural choreography, where impossible, fleeting surfaces and the impermanent spaces they create dance around each other. Her layered, multiple exposure conceptual images are the product of someone who grew up in, and embraced, the early years of the digital age. As the tools we use to capture the world around us change – from drone photography to thermal imaging – creatives like Krasojević have in turn responded by incorporating these new ways of seeing into the renderings of their conceptual thinking.
This latest project is a solar crematorium intended for the coastal town of Santa Monica in Los Angeles, California, and is as innovative, quirky and captivating as anything Krasojević has done to date. The term quirky is used deliberately here. Not to diminish the work, but to acknowledge that a keen sense of fun seems to tickle at the serious edges of her work. Juxtaposing cultural norms like the solemnity of a funeral against the counter-culture nature of skateboarding in, and on, buildings – as is the case with the conceptual images here – is a perfect example.
Juxtaposition is a recurrent theme in Krasojević's work, and even the chosen location for the crematorium reflects that. Taking inspiration from the coastline and the boardwalks of the old, yet progressive area, the design hopes to mirror the environment, the people and the transient, ephemeral character of Los Angeles. Connecting the old and the new alike.
The design considers the notion that cremation has become more popular than burial – a commentary perhaps on how often we now move home, city, country – and that our ways of memorializing the dead are becoming more creative and personal. To this end, Krasojević suggests that this crematorium offers the option to memorialize our loved ones by turning their ashes into a tattoo, a section of a concrete reef or even fireworks. But first comes the cremation.
In a nod to clean energy use and the life-giving power of the Sun itself, the primary energy employed for the ashes-to-ashes procedure will be solar. Parabolic reflectors surrounding the crematorium chamber will angle to focus the Sun's rays via layers of dichroic and Fresnel glass (with a backup fuel source of biomass, biogas etc. for when it's overcast).
The entire design is one where light, air and people move fluidly throughout. A metaphor for the transition of the spirit from the mortal coil to the next plane of existence. The internal surfaces of the structure are designed to accommodate projections of photos and videos which memorialize and celebrate the life of the deceased.
It's proposed that many of these surfaces will include polyester films which transition between transparent and translucent states depending on the viewing angle, and anti-reflective privacy films. In the underpass and memorial garden, a "luminescent zoetrope landscape" will be created via LEDs embedded into a rubber-clad surface.
With changing boundaries, surfaces and access points which move according to particular stages during a memorial – all intended to blur the lines between the corporeal and the ethereal – the engineering considerations are mind boggling, which makes the proposed budget for the crematorium of US$12 million seem a little low (perhaps that's just the design fee). As of writing, the client name and the project completion date are withheld, so we'll have to wait to see if this project moves beyond the concept stage.
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