Last thursday we visited the ‘Heimolen crematorium’ in Sint Niklaas, Belgium. The crematorium was designed by the Dutch architecture office Claus & Kaan. The crematorium is built near an existing cemetery in Sint Niklaas the capital and major city of the Waasland region in East Flanders. Director Kris Coenegrachts showed us around and provided us with very valuable information. Not only about the design and workings of the crematorium, in which he was very eloquent but also some very interesting background information. Crematoria in Belgium are in considered a public service, so it is not left to the market to decide if a crematorium is built. In contrast, in the Netherlands most of the the cremation facilities are left to commercial funeral companies.
What is very interesting for our research is to see whether politics have consequences on the funeral proces and the quality of the crematoria.
Crematorium Heimolen consists of three buildings: a ceremonial building, a restaurant and the actual cremation facility. The first two are connected under a single big roof, while the cremation building is located in the back of the cemetery. The picture at the left shows the clean peaceful interior of the cremation room. People are offered the possibility to be present at the actual cremation of their beloved ones.
The organized and fresh architecture creates a very natural atmosphere which is at the same time intimate and warm.