NEW BLOEMFONTEIN MORTUARY
Situated on the periphery of Wilgehof, the new Bloemfontein Mortuary gave the architects an opportune moment to rectify and address critical factors absent from previous State Mortuary design.
The design concept was driven by the following ideas that aimed to address some of these critical issues:
- Rapid transfer system (RTS)
- Hygienic and pleasant working environment
- Circumstances that will allow the deceased to be handled in a dignified way
- Allow a calming and non-threatening interface with the family and friends of the deceased
The design concept translated to the following:
- Inviting rather than a threatening public image
- Separate rooms for public and staff
- Emphasis on pleasant office spaces
- Signified access and interface of spaces
- State of the art mechanical ventilation
- Light and airy circulation spaces
- Use of low maintenance materials
An intrinsic duality to be explored in any mortuary, is Spirituality vs. Materiality.
The church is interested in the spiritual dimension of the body; while the mortuary deals with the physical aspects of mortality.
The church offers consolation; while the mortuary offers rational data on death.
Another comparison we explored was Life vs. Death, in terms of facilities. Although closely linked, a hospital is interested in preserving life; while a mortuary seeks to preserve death. Both are interested in answers based on scientific procedures.
Thus, a mortuary should probably have qualities of a church (not necessarily visually) and functional properties related to a hospital (e.g. hygienic environment).
The various garden foci were unfortunately not realised.