Elementary Encounter

architect Gunther Wawrik
project Funerary Complex, Gräfelfing near Munich, Germany
written by Matthias Boeckl

If architecture is an interpretation of the practice of life, then Gunther Wawrik´s funerary complex in Gräfelfing achieves even more than that: it is a reconstruction of a former intimate and personal way of coping with death. With its own “houses of dead”, the complex makes it possible for mourners to meet undisturbed with the deceased, while the hall itself has been designed as a kind of instrument which can be used by mourners of all confessions, each in their own way. And the route that leads out of the hall to the cemetery passes by a pond provoking many associations which can make the act of taking leave a dignified ceremony. However, the hall is something exceptional not only from the point of view of the ritual but also in a technological sense with its unusual wooden shell. It demonstrates that even with the building tasks that are seemingly fixed for ever, it is possible to find new architectural formulations enabling even the change of its utilisation.