Concept of Death is a mesmerizing thing indeed. Enchanting. Mysterious. Projects related to death by definition cannot be banal given the metaphysical nature of the imminent Grand Finale…  In my previous post my guest from Bulgaria has presented such a project – an amazing and unusual design for a funeral urn by Spanish artist Martin Azua. Martin has delivered an elegant eco-solution for a noble idea of reincarnation. To me this is what the real design is all about. So I have decided to widen my “deadly topic” a bit more…

I’d like to introduce another “killer-project”: a unique crematorium building from Kiev, Ukraine. (As you can see death theme is quite international)

I’ve stumbled upon the crematorium in one of the posts by Kiev architectural photographer Lev Shevchenko. (Lev has an excellent photo-blog dedicated to Kiev’s architecture. Unfortunately for my English-speaking readers Lev’s texts are in Russian but his images worth a thousand words).

The crematorium is a unique project. It was built in 1975. 1975! During that time the only thing that could be built in the USSR were monotonous concrete boxes, utterly primitive buildings that combined an ugliness of brutalism and Corbusian architectural ideologies. What a mix! So this is really a mystery: how such an extraordinary futuristic building could be designed and actually built in the country where any spark of talent or individualism was suppressed.

The architect of the project is Abraham Miletsky. During the Soviet years he was a pretty prominent architect in Kyiv. He has designed few more quite interesting buildings (Hotel Salute, Youth Palace) nevertheless crematorium is a real gem. In my opinion Abraham was so ahead of his time that Soviet bonzes just couldn’t comprehend it. That’s why such crazy building as crematorium was built. There’s something metaphysical in Death after all…

Lebbeus Woods phantasmagorias, Gehry’s weird volumes, Zaha’s cool streamlines… all these pioneering Western ideas can be seen in this bizarre little project in Kiev built in 1975. And even though building’s present shape is a disaster a genius of an architect is there. Forever.

So enough typing… Let’s see the building. It worth a thousand words of any description.



7 Responses to “Crematorium”
  1. Aidar says:

    It is probably fine pattern of something extraordinary on Soviet background (although I frankly hesitate about its beauty, shame on me )) ). I guess it was influenced by Sydney Opera (finished in 1973, two years earlier) and was an attempt to try concrete shells as a new building technology. Thus not in opposition, but may be even due to the mainstream of Soviet building research.

    • Albert says:

      Interesting observation about the Soviet experimentation with the concrete. Maybe you’re right… So there’s no romantic mystery then? 🙂
      I’ve also noticed the formal similarities between this project and the Opera in Sydney… I was even thinking to call the architect and to ask if he was influenced by Utzon’s design (btw, there’s nothing wrong with that in my view). Unfortunately Mr. Miletsky died in 2004.
      As for the “beauty”, it’s all relative. “De gustibus non disputandum est.” The most important thing is a creative attitude and an artistic way of thinking. Both factors are clearly in place here…

  2. Greg says:

    I am not an Architect myself and I see some similarities with the opera house in Sydney but I think this building is extraordinary by itself and the fact that Mr. Miletsky was allowed to bring this project to life is an amazing accomplishment. I can’t stop admiring this building; there is something about it that makes you hold your breath, even if it is only for a moment. Makes me want to restore it to its former glory. What do you say Albert? Trip to Kiev? 🙂 As to hotel Salut I think it is a great testament to Soviet futurism and another great example of the spirit of the Soviet people and their achievement no matter how suppressed their talents were…

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