Mourning House Straelen

Patrick Lehn Architekt BDA

The house of mourning is a place of dignity and farewell. The juxtaposition of cemetery, city centre, consumer market and traffic is part of everyday life in the city of Straelen. The competition calls for a new building at the Straelen cemetery on Ostwall.

In view of the modest budget available, a conscious use of funds is inevitable. The design by the architectural office of Patrick Lehn shows a simple structure for the mourning house that fits into the orthogonal structure of the cemetery. With its 55° pitched and 9.50 metre high gable roof, the new building holds its own especially against the consumer market planned in the immediate vicinity. The simple geometry and clear proportions of the structure provide a dignified setting for funeral services. A cemetery wall planned parallel to the mortuary and the house of mourning orders the surroundings of the new building.

Between the wall and the buildings, a green atrium is created as well as a wide access to the cemetery, from which the visitors' WCs integrated into the building volume of the mortuary are accessed. The funeral home is accessed from the square in front and the covered forecourt. Due to the complete integration of the weather-protected area into the building volume, the clarity of the building volume remains unrestricted.

If necessary, the transparently designed entrance façade can be opened and the forecourt can be connected to the funeral ceremony room. The windows planned in both side walls, reaching from the floor to the edge of the eaves, with flush oak frames allow daylight into the interior. The light is dimmed by vertical oak strips integrated in the space between the panes of insulating glass.

Visualization: Mourning house Straelen
loomn | Exterior view: Mourning house Straelen

3D Visualization: Mourning house Straelen
loomn | Interior view: Mourning house Straelen

The wooden strips protect against glimpses and give the mourning room its intimate character. In the ceremony area, the roof of the mourning house opens up to the sky. Streaks of light fall on the front gable, creating a contemplative, solemn atmosphere in the room. On the gable wall, the round window of the existing building created by the artist Reinhard Maria Bongartz finds its new place as a backlit glass picture.

By varying the design of the drywall cladding, the white-coated roof and wall surfaces in the interior can be made sound-reflecting or sound-absorbing according to the room acoustic requirements. The colour tone of the grey chippings of the mourning place finds its counterpart in the large-format tiles of the heated floor. The calibration of the material allows for a very fine and calm-looking grout pattern. Very reduced luminaires suspended from the roof surfaces supply the interior with artificial light as needed. The familiar, archetypal shape of the building lives from its reduced detailing and the use of materials typical of the site. The roof is planned to be covered with clay tiles, which underline the clarity of the building with their linear design. In line with the design concept, the gutter will be integrated flush with the roof.

The exterior walls are clad with a clinker brick whose colour harmonises with the red roofing of the new building as well as with the facing of the mortuary. An economical construction method and a short construction time are ensured by the chosen construction with its high degree of prefabrication. Steel frames made of HEB 300 profiles set up in an axial grid of 5.40 metres hold the horizontally running wooden rafters. The compartments of the roof and wall construction are filled with cellulose fibres, which not only provide high-quality and sustainable insulation, but also optimum thermal protection in summer.

The low mass of the exterior components has a positive effect on the indoor climate, as they do not need to be heated when needed. In contrast to the existing house of mourning, the exterior components of the new building do not radiate cold in winter. As a result, the planned underfloor heating is able to provide pleasant and comfortable temperature conditions even at low room temperatures. Loomn contributed to the competition entry by creating professional 3D visualisations for Patrick Lehn. The photorealistic images show the design both from the outside and from the inside.