A rectangular timber building block tucks into the valley of a natural terrain. It contrasts with the meandering access path and creates a new image for Columbaria in Hong Kong. Columbaria are no longer cold, sad or scary, they could be nice, pleasing and with warmth. The architecture takes away fear and retains silence. It attempts to change the unpleasant image of these premises deeply implanted into the mind of most traditional Chinese people.
The premises, which houses 43,800 niches, were designed with a park-like environment. An entrance reflective pond cleans the minds of the visitors. Through the meandering access path with vertical green walls, visitors are led to a plaza where they are distributed to the main niche block and to the external niche areas through grand steps. Building roofs are covered with lawns and the green coverage builds up to 68%.
A natural timber screen is introduced to the façade of the niche block which shields the niches from view when looked from street. Most important, it creates warmth for both interior and exterior of the buildings and takes away fear. The design encourages green worshipping. 2 out of 5 floors of the niches block are smoke-free where no incense burning is allowed. The centralized indoor joss paper burners are relocated outside the building. They form sculptural elements at the green roof.
A spiral lawn symbolizes the recycling of life in Chinese culture. A square shape reflecting pool with a floating stepping path leading to the middle symbolizes the revisiting of one’s past when one looks down to the water surface at the end. To encourage green burial by spreading of ash to earth, two gardens of remembrances with contemporary Chinese and western themes are provided.