a vaulted stone wall rises from the ground to embrace the “Chapel of the Last Farewell” in Poland
a last farewell place in poland
architects jakub turbasa and bartÅomiej pyrzyk were commissioned to design a new chapel in the old cemetery in rychwaÅd, poland. Dubbed the “Last Farewell Chapel”, the project arose out of the desire of the local community to create a suitable last place as a means of continuing the centuries-old, slowly passing tradition of bidding farewell to the deceased at home.
the project was recognized as the winner of the 2021 edition of the âarchitektury salonâ competition organized by the regional chamber of architects of malopolska of the republic of poland. it was also nominated as a project of the 2021 edition of the “2021 prize of the year” organized by the association of Polish architects.
all images are courtesy of jakub turbasa
go back to its roots
located right next to an ancient cemetery, the chapel emerges as an extension of the pre-existing baroque complex with the minor basilica of st. nicolas. this new structure consists of a prayer space and ancillary rooms, including a room with a cold room for the bodies, technical rooms, a laundry room, public toilets, etc.
the simplicity of the architecture derives from the archetypal and traditional forms of the gable roof chapels, which also appear in the region. the design turns to the origins of the construction of sacred objects, while constituting their contemporary reinterpretation, which is expressed by large triangular glazing, walls “suspended” inside, the synthesis of details, etc. the architecture of the chapel is characterized by the choice of natural materials such as wood or stone. contact with noble and natural matter opens a person, through their senses (touch, smell, acoustics, etc.), to the multidimensionality of space as well as to a deeper cognition and experience.
functional and symbolic architecture
the structure consists of two parts which adequately express the function related to the spaces of the sacrum and the profanum. the first refers to the prayer space – the chapel, which clearly communicates its function through its distinctive form. the second, covered in greenery, rises from the ground along a delicate arch, encompassing the aforementioned accompanying pieces. as for him, it forms a natural limit between the zone of the cemetery with the vault and the carpark, the equipments, as well as the zone of the caravans. the visual distinction between these areas is also underlined by the material of the facades – polished sandstone (chapel) and raw (accompanying parts).
due to the function and character of the building, the design concept echoes the memory of the “paschal path” – the last moments of the life of christ – from the passion, through death, to the resurrection, which s ‘symbolically express in architecture.
Passion, isolation, loneliness and death
During the first stage, where individuals cross the boundary of consecrated land (the cemetery boundary) and make their way to the main entrance to the chapel, the person experiences progressive tranquility and concentration. thanks to the green stone walls that protrude from the ground (and hide the accompanying rooms below), we isolate ourselves more and more from the outside world, reaching the reality of the profanum. after crossing the threshold of the chapel, a person finds himself in a hallway filled with darkness. the walls and the reinforced concrete ceiling are black, which aims to underline the impression of immensity, infinity and “immateriality” of a place where all outlines are lost. the severity of this place expresses the aforementioned stage of passion – loneliness, suffering, Jesus’ prayer in the olive grove.
at the bottom of the perspective of the chapel and also at eye level, we can see a filigree cross which expresses the next stage: death. the historic wooden sculpture of christ was obtained from a desecrated church in belgium. then, through the area of ââdarkness, the visitor enters the real prayer area, taking shape as a luminous space that symbolizes the hope of the Christian vocation (according to the Christian faith, life does not end with death ). in the place where people gather around the body of the deceased, their attention is not focused on the reality of death, but on the prospect of eternal life. this is why the architecture of the interior naturally guides the gaze upwards and towards the light.
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