‘Father, into your hands I commend my spirit’ (Luke 23:46)
The chapel of rest for the Steinfeld cemetery is designed in the form of two curving formwork elements made of reinforced concrete and appearing as two carefully receptive hands. It is the centrepiece of the redesigned Cemetery Centre which was begun by the municipal parish of Graz under Episcopal vicar Dr Heinrich Schnuderl, continued by Christian Leibnitz, the new municipal parish provost, and finally built to a design by Hofrichter-Ritter Architects in 2011.
From the perspective of urban development the building site had become a peripheral location due to the construction of the new, exclusively pedestrian tunnel underneath the railway line. Upgrading the site and, as a result, the Steinfeld cemetery was a matter of importance for Graz’s urban planners. Consequently, the cemetery has regained its significance as a public space and park…’
‘…The chapel of rest:
The area for the farewell ceremony is regarded as the key space: the central location, size and above all the height of the room makes it the heart of the service centre.
This space is used in three phases. These can be staged differently, depending on how the room has been arranged, especially with regard to the openings and lighting effects.
The sequence is as follows: laying out – farewell – accompaniment of the deceased to the burial ground.
An approx. 150 m² chapel of rest, surrounded by two shell-like walls with a ceiling height of about 4.80-5.0 m, forms the main structural element of the building.
An overlap between the two shells hides the view of the exit to the columbarium grove and cemetery grounds…’
The intention is to build a new cemetery wall flanking the ancillary rooms and the new columbarium grove. Much of it will form the outer wall of the ancillary rooms.
Made of white concrete, this wall features different slants: where it performs a space-enclosing function, the wall slants towards the building; where it has the sole function of a ‘boundary wall’ it slants away from the site.
A second, relatively small structure has also been included in the overall design; it accommodates two small business premises and a public toilet…’