Brno Architecture Manual

 
 
 

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Jihlavská 756/1 (Štýřice) Brno Střed

Public transport: Krematorium (TRAM 5, 7, 8)

Ústřední hřbitov (TRAM 2, 6)

Ústřední hřbitov (BUS 50, 79)

GPS: 49°10'20.499"N, 16°35'22.789"E

 

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In 1925 Brno officials asked architects Antonín Blažek, Vladimír Škára, Pavel Janák and Ernst Wiesner to submit designs for a new crematorium building at the Central Cemetery in Brno. The jury favoured Wiesner's alternative design that placed the planned building higher above the cemetery, near Jihlavská Street. They therefore asked Wiesner and Janák to reconsider their designs in line with the new requirement. The jury then unanimously chose Wiesner's design which, while more expensive (4 million crowns), combined a state-of-the-art technical solution with a clearly expressed spiritual dimension: "...the technical form – the technical apparatus used today for cremation is intrusive in its search for abstraction and does not allow the disengagement of the intellect which the final moments of earthly existence should invoke in the bereaved." stated Wiesner in 1928 in an article published in the Horizont journal. Ernst Wiesner held that a modern crematorium should not merely meet all functional requirements and use innovative technical means. He also accentuated a rediscovery of long-lost sacred space as well as a perfect harmony of form and content: "Surely, the current method of cremation is ushering in a new cult; yet this cult will not form until our era - technology and art - has found an expression for it so that its outward and inner expression match the cherished cults of old. Today's architects are charged with finding a form for this cult, its outward expression, so that it can work within." And Wiesner's expressive architecture does work within. The roof crown of lean pointed pillars, the long tongue of the graded stairs as well as the location of the building on a monumental platform guarantee an emotional experience. The layout of the interior spaces used for the funeral ceremony are also sophisticated. The main ceremonial hall is lit with celestial skylights and dominated by a black marble catafalque. After the ceremony is over, the catafalque bearing the coffin sets out for the last voyage and goes through the monumental gate towards the furnace, which we only surmise behind the three large barred windows in the upper part of the wall, to return again, empty. The entire funeral ceremony should have a symbolic ending by reunifying the deceased's soul with heaven through the tall chimney in the rear tract of the building. However, the originally planned coke furnace was replaced by two more modern gas furnaces at the implementation stage and prevented this metaphoric act from ever taking place.

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