The proposed new funeral hall for Gan Shalom is sited to take mourners through a sequence that places them on a centre axis with a giant California Oak. The tree is highly significant in Judaism as a symbol of faith, familial relationships, community rootedness, and the continuance of life. With this in mind, the backdrop to the funeral ritual will provide both a symbolic and aesthetic reaffirmation of the central tenets of our people.
Before entering the hall, mourners will encounter a ceremonial washing pavilion and small fountain. Mayim, the giver of life; a precious life-force for all living things.
Landscaped berms will surround the complex. These will be planted with native flora and anchored by large boulders, some of which are polished to provide for seating. These are miniature versions of the beautiful hilly setting of Gan Shalom and also reference Adama (land, ground, soil), which is both the giver of life and the place where we honor our ancestors.
The materials of the hall will be constructed from plank-formed concrete, with wooden ceilings and screening to refer to the physical and conceptual connection to the tree and the earth. Chomer (material) refers to the physical realities of the tangible as a housing for the metaphysical.
The hall uses light to bring compassion to the space and to refer to the presence of spirit in the ritual. Above the coffin-dais, a double-height space will allow for a clerestory of southern light to bathe the ceremony in a warm glow (Or) while the northern view to the tree will be framed by a curtain wall of glass. The eternal light, like Mayim, Adama and Chomer, is an essential giver of life and illumination of truth.
The funeral hall is to be connected to an administration wing along the western side of the complex using similar materials of wood and concrete to complement the whole. The ‘L shaped’ space formed by the hall and wing will be planted with trees to serve as a shaded gathering place.
A Funeral Hall for Gan Shalom Cemetery
Gan Shalom Cemetery
Bill Pechet, Lőrinc Vass
Lőrinc Vass, Bill Pechet