In 2005 the landscape in Krasnja, Slovenia, a village of just over three hundred people not far from Ljubljana, announced a competition for the construction of a cemetery chapel, won by Rok Oman and Spela Videcnik (OFIS arhitekti). In addition to the cemetery, located at the foot of a hill on the outskirts of the village, a 350 m2 lot was set aside for the monument. Find themselves having to work with a slight slope, the architects decided to make the most of it to reinforce the chapel’s link with its context. A portion of the hill was dug out to contain the walls designed to follow the curves of the level of the land.The exposed cement structure follows three curves defining and dividing up the space: one embraces the land of the hill, while the other is a continuation of the first, extending into a ramp leading to a rooftop garden, while the third forms the sacred space. Larch wood boards cover it, underlining the importance of the location. This and the big cross-shaped skylight are the only distinctive signs of the location in which services are held.
The morphology of the land may be read in the forms of the building, which also allude to the metaphor of the cave as a place of worship, first pagan and then Christian. But unlike caves or ritual buildings, traditionally collected and reserved, this chapel is completely open to the outdoors, like a door opened wide onto the land.The wooden cladding continues onto the outside wall and the floor tiles are hardly any different from the colour of the cement. The big pane of glass is the only element defining the limit on the space, but it is completely transparent, so that the space appears large and airy when one stands under the light of the cross. For the evening there are four spotlights under the eaves, and sunlight is replaced by a frame of light following the shape of the cross and illuminating it with an unusual mystical effect. Along the wall flanking the hill there are public toilets, accessible from outside, a coat check and a utility area. A ramp from the road takes visitors to the top of the chapel, where the hill extends out into its green roof, a point from which they can look out over the village and say a prayer over the cemetery.Use of cement, refined by wooden cladding, does not subtract from the natural way in which the building fits into the landscape. It cost only 180,000 euro, from the digging of the foundations to the roof, to build this practical construction with a welcoming feel, proportioned to its surroundings and intended use in terms of both colour and dimensions.
The interesting formal effect of the cemetery chapel in the village of Krasnja offers an example of how architecture does not need big clients or international names to be interesting.
by Mara Corradi
Design: OFIS (Rok Oman, Spela Videcnik, Andrej Gregoric, Janez Martincic, Magdalena Lacka, Katja Aljaz, Martina Lipicer)
Client: City of Krasnja (Slovenia)
Location: Krasnja (Slovenia)
Structural design: ELEA iC
Gross useful floor space: 210 m2
Lot size: 350 m2
Garden size: 140 m2
Competition on invitation: 2005
Start of construction: 2008
Cement and glass structures
Photographs: Tomaz Gregoric