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Futuristic Architect Envisions Eco Crematorium Off Santa Monica Beach

Bob Kronovetrealty
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Santa Monica Convention and Visitors

By Jorge Casuso

July 16, 2019 -- A visionary London architect's conceptual renderings of a combination crematorium, memorial space and skate park off Santa Monica Beach is making a splash in the architecture world.

The concept by Margot Krasojevic -- who has designed everything from a dynamic seismic hotel to a hydroelectric waterfall prison -- evokes a science-fiction world of sweeping, streamlined curves that seem to swirl towards the Pacific's distant horizon.

Eco crematorium for Santa Monica by Margot Krasojevic
Eco crematorium for Santa Monica (Renderings by Margot Krasojevic)

Like all of the experimental architect and psychologist's visions, the conceptual work for Santa Monica is grounded in renewable energy and sustainable architecture, cornerstones of the City's ambitious efforts to reduce its carbon footprint to net zero.

"With depleting levels of non-renewable resources, attempting to harness renewable energy as an inherent part of the design strategy should be a requirement," Krasojevic writes on her website.

"We need to adapt and this will involve new environments to claim," she writes. "The face of the built environment is changing and with it so should buildings."

Eco crematorium below surface
Eco crematorium below surface

The proposed design for Santa Monica's holographic recycling crematorium is inspired by "the piers, boardwalks and the dynamic coastline," said Krasojevic, who worked for renown architect Zaha Hadid.

The structure, she says, "attempts to create and reflect a dialogue with the experimental and progressive vibe of the area, as a place that has always inspired change and creativity."

The crematorium consists of "a landscape-choreographed series of oblique arches" that mimics "the undulating landscape that surrounds and becomes part of the design circulation infrastructure."

Although Krasojevic's text makes no mention of the structure's use as a skate park, several of the project's renderings show skaters winding and soaring above the sweeping multi-layered surfaces.

Skater rides the surface
Skater rides the surface

But the design's clear function is as a crematorium that uses the power of Southern California's often relentless sunlight to ignite the funeral pyre.

"Parabolic reflectors surround the crematorium chamber and can be angled to obtain the strongest solar concentration," Krasojevic writes.

"The chamber focuses on solar energy in order to be able to cremate a body without relying on backup energy provision."

The "ecologically friendly pyre" -- which uses combined layers of dichroic and Fresnel glass to concentrate the sun’s rays -- lends an aesthetic, and spiritual, element to the work.

"The dichroic panels give the illusion of a burning fire, which is an aesthetic used in ceremonial cremations if requested – a spiritual, ceremonial alternative to an open burning fire that pollutes the environment," Krasojevic writes.

It is not the first time Krasojevic's architecture grapples with rituals involving death.

The architect, who lived for six months in Ordos and the Gobi desert, was commissioned to design a Buddhist Temple and funeral tower "which refers to the traditional Tibetan/Mongolian Sky burial," according to her site.

It is also not the first time a visionary project is proposed for the Santa Monica shoreline.

Proposed road to the sea
Proposed road to the sea (Courtesy City of Santa Monica)

In the 1960s, an audacious scheme to create a chain of islands linked by a causeway was swept away by environmentalists who fought the project ("SPECIAL REPORT: The Road in the Sea," September 28, 2003).

While the eco crematorium is, like most of Krasojevic's visions, a paper project,"her parametric and outlandish forms are becoming increasingly buildable," according to a June 2015 article in Arch Daily.

"My work is becoming more build-able, but the reasoning stays the same, requiring different methods to communicate my intentions," she told the magazine in an extensive interview.

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