Islamic Cemetery nominated for Aga Khan Award
Austrian practice Bernardo Bader Architects creates serene place of rest in the alpine village of Altech
For obvious reasons, it's kind of hard to really like a cemetery, but for Bernardo Bader Architects’ recently completed Islamic Cemetery in the Altarch district of Vorarlberg, Austria we'll make an exception. Actually we're not alone as it's just been short listed for the Aga Khan Award 2013. The cemetery, which is set in picturesque Alpine countryside comprises a simple red-tinted concrete building and includes a prayer space, five burial enclosures, assembly halls and an area for ritual washing.
The concrete surfaces remain exposed both inside and outside the complex, revealing the rectangular imprints of wooden formwork. Oak is used for ornamentation on the entrance facade and in the interior of the prayer space.
In this district of Austria some 8 per cent of the population are Muslim and the cemetery will serve their needs. The congregation space welcomes visitors at entry and includes rooms for ritual washing and assembly rooms decorated in a subdued palette that lead onto a courtyard. The largest room opens to a private courtyard and features lighting fixtures set into circular ceiling recesses.
The prayer room on the far side of the courtyard reprises the lattice-work theme. It has a long rectangular oak wood window that extends across the building’s façade and displays filigree framework inspired by Islamic mashrabiya-patterned screens. Its interior space was designed by Azra Aksamija and includes a Qibla wall and six beige/brown prayer rugs that were hand-woven in a kilim workshop in Sarajevo.
Centred on the concept that Austria’s immigrant and host Muslims should coexist spiritually, the Qibla wall brings together different cultures through its material choice, such as the three stainless steel mash curtains that carry wooden shingles, and its design which references traditional Islamic architecture.
The cemetery’s burial spaces are aligned in an angled succession, with each one containing several trees, benches and small patches of grass that cannot but help add to the serene, contemplative nature of the environment Bernado Bader has created here. If you're keen on being surprised by the delights innovative architecture throws up be sure to check out our extensive range of architecture titles in the store.