Cemetery chapel is situated in the vicinity of the historic Church of St. Lawrence in Vantaa. The old stone church with its bell tower remain the dominant features in the landscape. The chapel has been divided in smaller parts to adapt with the scale of the surroundings. The stacked stone walls of the cemetery are echoed in the design – a series of three chapels of different sizes are nested within orthogonal masonry walls.

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Building type: Cemetery chapel
Competition: open architecture competition, 1st prize, 2003
Location: Pappilankuja 3, Vantaa, Finland
Year of completion: 2010
Gross Area: 1879 sqm
Total cost: 10 m€
Client: Vantaa Parish Union
User:  Vantaa Parish Union
Developer: Vantaa Parish Union
Architects: Avanto Architects Ltd/ Ville Hara and Anu Puustinen, Architects SAFA

Felix Laitinen, student of Architecture
Tommi Tuokkola, Architect SAFA
Jonna Käppi, Architect ARB, SAFA
Piotr Gniewek, student of Architecture
Asami Naito, student of Architecture

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Interior Designer:  Avanto Architects Ltd / Kai Korhonen, Architect SAFA
Landscape Architect: Landscape Architects Byman Ruokonen Ltd / Eva Byman,
Niina Strengell
Structural Design: R J Heiskanen Engineers Ltd / Kari Toitturi, Helena Lomperi
HVAC Design: Leo Maaskola Engineers Ltd / Jukka Sainio, Esa Leino
Electric Design:  Veikko Vahvaselkä Engineers Ltd / Rauno Nyblom, Lassi Jalava
Lighting Design:  Tülay Schakir
Acoustic Design:  Akukon Ltd / Olli Salmensaari
Textile Design:  Avanto Architects Ltd


Prime contractor: Rakennuspartio Ltd
Electric contractor: Lassila & Tikanoja Ltd / Building Services / Electric Services
HVAC contractor: Sähköpeko Etelä-Suomi Ltd
Timber furniture contractor: Wooden Ltd
Metal furniture contractor: Selki-Asema Ltd
Metal mesh contractor: Inlook Ltd
Artists:  Pertti Kukkonen, Pekka Jylhä
Organ constructor: Urkurakentamo Veikko Virtanen Ltd
Landcape contractor: Lemminkäinen Ltd and Suomen Graniittikeskus Ltd

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Chapel of St. Lawrence By Avanto Architects Ltd - Sheet1The building uses similar materials as the old structures in the area: rendered brickwork, natural stone, patinated copper sheet and mesh. The partition walls are in-situ cast white concrete. The lifespan target for the chapel is two hundred years. An open art competition was scheduled before the final construction documents were drafted, so that the art could be integrated as a seamless part of the architecture.

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Chapel of St. Lawrence By Avanto Architects Ltd - Sheet2Space for grief

The chapel is designed to assist the mourner, giving space for grief. The people attending the funeral follow a silent route through a series of sacral spaces, punctuated by intermediate rooms. The intermediate spaces prepare the visitors for the next phase of the funeral. The whitewashed masonry walls and a continuous skylight next to it lead from one space to the next, from the low and dark to the lofty and light.

Chapel of St. Lawrence By Avanto Architects Ltd - Sheet5Path, a symbolic route

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The chapel’s architecture is a depiction of the passage of a Christian soul from here to the hereafter.

We approach alongside the outer wall. The wall and the bell tower at its end speak of the earthbound journey and its ending. We turn the corner and, sheltered by an overhang, follow the wall, to a small courtyard – a small pond, with natural stones at its bottom.

We enter a dimly lit lobby with a low ceiling, we can glimpse the entrance court and the old garden of the vicarage behind us. Here it is possible to stop for a moment and reflect on the experiences and life shared with the deceased.

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Chapel of St. Lawrence By Avanto Architects Ltd - Sheet7We follow the skylight to the chapel. The chapel opens up, a high space terminating in the brightly lit junction of the masonry wall, where the deceased will be met by the mourners. The wall towards the graveyard is semi transparent, glazed with a patinated copper mesh on either side, a screen between this life and the hereafter. From the chapel we exit, through a small garden, to the graveyard. The path turns – but continues.

Avanto Architects Ltd

Ville Hara and Anu Puustinen founded Avanto Architects 2004. The name Avanto, a hole in the ice for winter swimming, symbolizes the office’s philosophy. Architecture should always be a powerful experience like a dip to ice cold water. There should be ice holes in the future too so we should build sustainably. The main works of Avanto includes Chapel of St Lawrence and public sauna Löyly.

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