Design Plays with Shadow and Light to Create Meaning

While funeral homes tend to be bleak and windowless, Olivet wanted their new funeral and cremation services building to reflect its mission of helping families honor the dead in meaningful ways. They enlisted us to design a light and airy space that would serve as a celebration of life, instead of a mourning of death.

The mid-century modern design features a low, horizontal profile stretched across a gently-sloped lawn. Celebrating the cycle of life, the exterior is a composition of concrete pillars and wood-slated screens that play with shadow and light. A breezeway shelters the glass entry, guiding guests along a grass-swept facade, and culminating at a shou sugi ban wall; an emblem of preservation. Throughout, resting benches allow visitors to experience the hushed silence. Above, copper-trimmed eaves, which have started to patina, are a reminder of spiritual transformations.

Inside, a 2,100 square foot multi-purpose chapel that can accommodate 300 guests. Bathed in natural light, a wall of windows overlooking the zen-like garden, acts as a threshold to nature and place of contemplation. The interiors are awash in tranquil hues. Walls have a cloud-like ombre effect while clay-colored carpet absorbs the whispering echoes. A soft glow emerges from the deeply grooved, geometric ceiling cut-out, and drop-down screens allow for memories to be shared.