Green crematorium wins design award

PUBLISHED : Tuesday, 20 April, 2010, 12:00am
UPDATED : Tuesday, 20 April, 2010, 12:00am

Sending off friends and relatives is always painful. But a new crematorium in Diamond Hill, winner of a merit award in an architectural competition yesterday, aims to make the experience a little more pleasant with its green and landscaped features.

The crematorium, one of seven projects recognised by the Hong Kong Institute of Architects, was designed by the Architectural Services Department and has been operating since February last year.

'Instead of leaving right away, you may want to stay a bit longer because of the tranquil environment,' the project's architect, Michael Mak Sheung-ching, said.

The HK$230 million project covers 21,000 square metres and features two lily ponds and two gardens of remembrance. About 80 per cent of the area is covered with plants, many bright with strong fragrances.

'The entrance and exit of each service hall are purposely segregated, avoiding the chances of different groups of mourners meeting each other,' Mak said. 'Mourners will be reminded of the beauty of nature and the celebration of life.'

It is designed in the shape of a ship - a fitting symbol for seeing off loved ones.

The service halls inside the crematorium have natural lighting from skylights and slit windows in order to create a calm and warm ambience.

The department said the six cremators, from Germany, use the latest clean-combustion technology.

Another project that received a merit award was also hailed as an environment-friendly building. The extension of United Christian College in Kwun Tong, designed by Ronald Lu and Partners, covers 2,350 square metres and includes a chapel, auditorium, classrooms, canteen, swimming pool, gym and dormitory.

The extension has adopted a low-carbon approach. The canteen, gym and corridors of the dormitory have no air conditioning because the site takes advantage of natural breezes.

Grass has been planted on the ground floor, podium and rooftop, providing a green open space for students to gather and study and covers about 40 per cent of the site.

'We also use bamboo as the floor material for the dormitory because bamboo grows quickly and is easily recycled,' architect Wong Kam-sing said.

The biggest prize, medal of the year, went to a mainland museum designed by a local veteran architect, Rocco Yim Sen-kee. The Guangdong Museum in Guangzhou, to be officially opened in the middle of the year, is likely to be one of the city's cultural landmarks.

The museum is designed like a sculpted antique lacquer box, with a conceptual feature of ivory carvings. It is supported by a large steel frame to allow the museum to hang over a green slope. The gaps between the museum and the slope form a green open space where visitors can rest and linger.

The green slope also hides the auditorium, storeroom and office. Yim said the museum made good use of space to allow natural lighting, which would protect the treasures on display.

The design won an international competition held by the Guangdong government in 2004.