Architect Sachit Arora of Renesa Architecture studio describes the scenario of the existing cremation facilities in India in “The Shadow Spaces” paper, while conceptualizing the ideal crematorium as a sacred landscape.
In India, a land of deeply held beliefs and long followed religious and ritualistic practices, death is given a lot of importance. However, according to the architect’s critique paper, in contemporary crematoriums, the act of cremation is “reduced to a mere set of tasks to be performed in a certain ritualistic order” offering “no relevance to the living” that mourn the dead.
The research paper also reveals that over time, the role of the spaces of cremation has changed considerably and a dilution of rituals has been observed. Also it notes that crematoriums have always been neglected spaces, placed away from residential areas due to the impression of gloominess and sadness they tend to give.
Sachit Arora argues that because of death’s inevitability and significance, spaces of cremation could therefore “be relevant as sacred landscapes” and help to develop a complex symbolism that explores “the poetic narrative and ritualistic aspect of architecture”.
The “Shadow Spaces” was thought out to be installed in Delhi, where the existing 50 to 55 cremation grounds accommodate between 5000 and 10, 000 deaths per day. Despite the number of crematoriums, only a few are actively used due to their location, size, facilities and proximity to holy rivers.
The idea behind the project is to change the society’s perception of crematoriums and overcome the inadequacies of existing ones, may it be physical, metaphysical, emotional and spiritual.
Edited by City of Future’s staff.