Seoul Memorial Park is a crematorium. It is tucked, behind a major national highway entry plaza, in a valley area of Woo-Myun Mountain which commands views to major highway junctions and distinctive corporate towers, and further away to landmark residential communities. The hilly terrain bordered by former popular mountain trails was converted to a sanctuary of solemn rituals commemorating people’s lives. From the onset, this crematorium was sought to be hidden away to overcome the objections and disapprovals of the local communities and related agencies. “Hide under the ground!” On the contrary, Seoul Memorial Park emerged as a sculpted earth work. The natural valley was transformed to a feature of “Land Art” by a flowing array of architectural forms with nature-inspired roofs.The crematorium facility is two-storied building that surrounds central courtyards. From the distant mountain trails and ridges, the building embedded in the valley appears as part of the natural setting, and yet, from the building interiors, it affords views to nature with its carved section configurations. Roof structures linked with four flower leaves’ imagery enclose the inner courtyard that incorporates water reservoirs. Families in bereavement take final journey of parting along the courtyard. This is spiritual space as if it is a church or temple. Reaching the cremation alcove, the ceiling rises like a loft above the Cross. The garden in the background comforts the bereft with its tranquility. Water converges. It transfigures and renews towards eternal life. It shimmers with sunlight, stays aloof with snowfalls, and whirls with spring rains. Life is found beautiful, and the bereft find peace of mind here. Architecture transformed a building to a place to celebrate life and comfort sorrow. Nature dissolved into architecture and, the strolling alley turned into the mountain. Architecture became an element of nature, and a piece of sculpture embracing lives.
Location: Seoul, Korea
Additional Credits: Park Youngchae [photographer]