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LILA 2023 Special Mention in Public Landscapes

Forest Path in the Roques Blanques Cemetery in the Collserola Natural Park

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Location: Spain / Type: Cemeteries and Memorials / Forest / Built: 2021 / In Process /
Show on Google Maps / Published on May 16, 2023

LILA 2023 Special Mention in Public Landscapes

The Forest Path is part of a larger, existing cemetery, where Batlleiroig designed one of their first projects as early as 1985. A shift in people’s relation to burial traditions and issues of space brought the need for a new, more nature-friendly means of burial practice.

Batlleiroig designed a Krainer wall structure, ready to host plants and wooden urns that contain the ashes. With time, the wooden logs and the urns will disintegrate, leaving behind a slope overgrown by plants that will further change through the passing of seasons. This reference to the cycle of life effectively acts as the memorial whilst providing more efficient use of land, infrastructure and other resources.

Besides the progressive and innovative solution, the jury was also charmed by the elegant design of the Forest Path and its forest-edge ambience.

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The project is located in the regional cemetery of Roques Blanques in the municipality of El Papiol in Barcelona. The facility has a plot of 50 ha, integrated within the Collserola natural park, and currently occupies 30% of the available area. The action corresponds to the development of group 6, with an area of 2,000 m2, and consists of generating a large, very elongated green terrace with a path, the ‘Forest Path’, prepared to house a total of 1,100 new graves.

This intervention, based on respect and conservation of the environment in the natural framework of the collserola park, is part of the last extension of the cemetery, inaugurated in 1985, with the recovery of the Can Tintorer farmhouse and the first group, the 1, corresponding to one of the first projects carried out by the Batlleiroig team.

The Roques Blanques cemetery, with 30 years of history, has known how to adapt to changes in customer demand, proposing new paradigms of burial, with the aim of facilitating the memory and relationship of families with their deceased. On the other hand, the close professional relationship with the client, Altima, promoter and manager of the cemetery, and the common interest in respect for the environment and nature, have made it possible to propose a cutting edge proposal in the new forms of grave, ecological and 100% biodegradable.

In recent years, traditional burial-based graves, tombs, pantheons, niches, ossuaries, and columbariums, have been losing demand in favor of a growing interest in cremation, and new ways family farewell from the ashes. Although traditional burials require hard constructions, which occupy a large part of the ground, and which require complex drainage systems that avoid contamination by seepage, the toxic leachates emanating from decomposing bodies, burials from the ashes, allow new graves with less environmental impact, such as the ‘forest of calm’, family trees’, or ‘the source of rest’. In this case, the krainer wall, an innovative system based on bioengineering applied to the landscape, is proposed to create ‘the Forest Path and the Butterfly Garden’.

The Krainer wall has many advantages: it is the natural containment system that generates the large green terrace located on the north slope of the Collserola mountain range, allowing an adequate and accessible space for the new graves, and incorporating the existing tree vegetation in addition to new plantations with local species. Its design is designed to be built quickly and with natural materials from the surrounding environment.

It is a technology that combines dead and living materials, often called living framing ‘double, which evolves over time, linking the degradation of dead elements (logs) with the roots and growth of living elements ( plants), in a natural dynamic that evocates the intrinsic cycle of life in the idiosyncrasy of a cemetery, as a meeting point between people and their ancestors, over time.

The “Cami dels bosc” has a length of 95.5 ml, a wall height of 1.5 m in 7 slopes, and a width of 2 m of wall and 1 m of path, located on the inner slope of the terrace landscaped of variable width around 8.10 m.

Learning from the beavers, who build their shelters from logs, branches and earth, generating true constructions of ecological and biodegradable engineering in the form of water intakes on the banks of the rivers, the proposed Krainer wall consists of a double framework of logs of Ø20 / 25 cm Montseny chestnut fixed with pegs, forming a cellular structure with the interior filled with earth and stones, and a high density O30 cm coconut fiber bioroll structured with a 45 mm coconut net that confines the new bush plantations.

During the first years, the locking of the slope is achieved thanks to the wooden structure, and as it decomposes, the rooted plants take over and become sufficient to support the land and definitively consolidate the natural slope. With this method, in addition, the control of runoff water is improved, the quality of the surrounding atmosphere, and refuges and food are created for the fauna of the place, such as reptiles and small rodents.

On the other hand, the organic urns for the ashes of the graves are made of chestnut wood, and are located in the spaces of the framework, forming a construction with materials of the site that becomes part of the natural biodynamics of the forest where it is located.

This technique has been selected in order to achieve the adequate and controlled inhumation of ash in an attractive space.

Project Data

AUTHORS: Batlleiroig Arquitectura. Enric Batlle Durany, Joan Roig i Duran, Iván Sánchez Fabra – Architect
TEAM: Livia Valentini, Carmen Guerrero – Architect and landscape architect / Elisabeth Torregrosa Avilés, Laura Luque Pan – Building engineer / Dolors Feu – Agricultural engineer and landscape architect / Marta Sanz Cuso – Architect
COLLABORATORS: Naturalea – Consultant in bioengineering and landscape rehabilitation techniques, Cave Terram – Environmental consultancy, WorldNature – Consultant in nature conservation and environmental awareness
LOCATION: El Papiol, Barcelona
CONSTRUCTION COMPANY: Naturalea, Excavacions Petit, Santin Jardineria i Paisatge
TOTAL AREA: 8.909 sqm
AWARDS: WAF 2021 – Camí del bosc, Premios Arquitectura 2021 CSCAE – Camí del bosc, Premis Catalunya Construcció 2018 – Camí del Bosc
PHOTO CREDITS: Jordi Surroca

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