A bunker at a former air defence site in the Czech Republic has been transformed into a pet crematorium.
The large main underground complex is surrounded by several smaller service bunkers, one of which has been redesigned by Czech architecture studio Petr Hájek Architekti into a crematorium for animals, aptly named ‘Věčná loviště or ‘Hunting Grounds’.
The captivating natural landscape is captured outside the repurposed bunker on a large mirror that reflects the bushes and trees.
“We installed a large mirror in the landscape whose reflections make nature’s presence more prominent. The resulting composition is perhaps closer to a work of art than a piece of architecture. But that’s no accident – the design was inspired by the statues of Anish Kapoor and Richard Serra,” the studio explained.
Measuring over 6m high and 11m long, the mirrored wall consists of small hexagonal pieces and is reminiscent of a gate leading to another dimension. This was fully intentional in view of the building’s intended use, according to the architect. The crematorium is located behind the mirror.
“Visitors who look into the mirror do not see themselves in the present moment but rather their reflection in the past. They look back, recall their memories… The mirror itself adds a mystic feeling to the landscape. Each piece has a slightly different tilt and angle, and the result is that the image seems to flicker. It feels like moving toward a liquid wall – a surreal feeling that cannot be described but needs to be experienced,” the studio says.
The crematorium’s facilities are located underground. The former bunker retains all the original structures where possible, with demolition work limited to the creation of new entryways. New walling was created to separate individual rooms based on the required ground plan.
Visitors can use the side entrance in the concrete hall to proceed to the reception hall and its wooden bench. From the hall, they can go to the anteroom and display room. The technical facilities have a separate access and are separated from visitor areas, hidden in the building’s interiors.
Materials used in this building conversion included plastered concrete blocks for internal and outer walling, polycarbonate materials for the skylight, and hexagonal mirrors made of metal-coated polycarbonate and glued on the brick wall by hand. While the bench is made of wooden planks, the furniture, doors and other pieces are made of plywood, and all the walls are whitewashed.
Photos: Benedikt Markel and Radek Úlehla/Coatman