Traditional funeral homes today have been designed in such a way that they mimic the parlors of grand Victorian homes of the past.These are generally outdated in terms of design and architecture. These can be viewed as reflective of the bleak affairs that they host – the viewing of the deceased. This can be traced back to the early history of funerals.
Back in the days, the deceased were displayed and viewing was done in their families’ homes, specifically at the parlor. On regular days, the parlor is the part of the house that is usually open to visitors. This room is usually adorned with fine furniture and decor. Because of this, when a family member dies, this part of the house becomes the area where the deceased is displayed for all to visit and pay their respects. Rightfully so, as this room is more formal and typically has enough space for the number of visitors.
It is believed that the way traditional funeral homes are designed and built is akin to these parlors. The earlier viewing parlors evoked a certain hominess, domesticity and level of comfort, usually with mostly dark wooden floors, walls and interiors. As regal as these funeral homes come however, one cannot shrug off the feeling that he or she is in a funeral home and is attending what is generally regarded as a sorrowful event.
Of late however, there have been some changes noted in the way modern funeral parlors are built. In some cases, there have been conscious effort to build modern viewing chapelswith designs that veer away from that parlor feel and domestic environment.
The architectural firm COR & Associates in Spain, for example, designed The Funeral Home and Gardens for the Town Council of Pinoso with the intention of giving it more energy and to have the guests focus clearly on the experience of being in the building. This intention is achieved with the architectural wonder of having all the structural elements combine to creating the light, temperature, spacing, and humidity that make up the desired environment. While all these elements are in play, the guest is treated to an environment that is both sensitive to and respectful of the affair taking place.
The design is so modern and it totally deviates from the design of existing traditional funeral homes – it is all concrete, with straight lines, uncomplicated beams, floor-to-ceiling glass panels, and none of the clutter and unnecessary trappings of an old-fashioned structure. It is so minimalist that one gets the feeling that he is in an office lobby to attend a meeting rather than being at a funeral and a few feet away from a dead body.
This funeral home is situated at the edge of the town and is ensconced in a bed of vegetation, with trees and foliage around it. It is considered as a “green” environment, all the more adding up to the total effect of the place. The greenery is not in the whole design just for aesthetic purposes, but is also very much functional in that it secures the privacy of the property from the surrounding buildings.
It is expected that the other funeral homes that will either be built or remodeled at this time will be inclined to follow this example. These modern viewing places, aside from being modern-looking and adapted to the times, should also carry with them recent advancements in architecture and design to allow for a better experience. After all, with all these new social movements carrying the banners “green,” “minimalism,” “post-modernism” and the likes being more prevalent these days, this would certainly make a lot of sense.
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