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Mausoleum in Murcia

Mausolea are worlds between life and death. In a small cemetery on the outskirts of Murcia, the architect has designed an impressive setting for burial rites. The structure is situated at a point where there is a jump in ground level, which allowed the creation of quite different spatial scenarios. The roof of the mausoleum serves as an outdoor altar area for funeral ceremonies. Here, a preoxidized steel cross rises from an area of white travertine paving.

As a symbol of life, water flows into a small pool, through the glazed side walls of which daylight enters the interior of the mausoleum. The reflection of the moving surface of the water internally alludes to death as a reflection of life. A sliding slab of translucent onyx closes an opening in the roof, through which coffins can be lowered into the vault.

Family members subsequently enter the mausoleum at the lower level via a 3.60-metre-high narrow opening with a wooden door. From within the vault, one has a dramatic view through a raised light to the steel cross above, set against a radiant sky.

Internally, all natural sources of illumination – the coloured light that filters through the onyx slab and the reflections of the water –

enhance the spiritual character of the tomb. When visitors are present after dusk, the lighting from the vault bathes the surroundings in a noble glow. The irregular edges of the stacked glass strips in the top light enter into a dialogue with the cleft slate of the exterior.

This article is taken out of the following magazine:
DETAIL 4/2004

Building with Light

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