Mumbai, India

Mata Ramabai Ambedkar Worli Smashan Bhumi

Crematorium is a space where a human being rests for the last time in their bodily form. Their loved ones are who the building should respond to as a space for grief and celebration. How, then, can the building be spatially articulated to create a sense of enigma, while yet meeting the pragmatic needs of the living? 

The Crematorium in Worli, Mumbai is imagined as a series of spaces that evoke diverse moods. A welcoming entry court is engrossed in nature, surrounded by gabion walls which nurture vegetation and protect an array of existing large trees. From this forecourt, as one enters the building, they are welcomed by amorphous forms of natural light that descend from the ceiling onto curved surfaces. The experience imitates the embrace of the fetus in the womb and the moment of birth that triggers the memory of the beginning of life. Through a series of generous volumes of spaces one arrives at the cremation pavilion, for the last rites which symbolize the fullness of life.

 A sequence of orchestrated frames at varied scales leads one through the complex and create spaces that expand to receive the collective as well as compress to comfort the individual.  Strategically staggered cremation pavilions ensure privacy for each family while remaining airy and open, and they are flushed with natural light and ventilation from private courtyards. Natural kota stone is utilized as a hardy, monochromatic flooring and seating material – a neutral visual background – while vein-rich, thick granite slabs elevate the last rites pedestal into a position of transcendence, fulfilling its purpose as the final resting space before cremation.