2013–14 | Gentofte, Denmark
Project: Chapel and Crematory
Client: Gentofte Ejendomme
The project concerns the iconic Mariebjerg chapel and crematorium which was designed in 1937 by the Danish architect Frits Schlegel – one of the pioneers of Danish concrete construction. The main task was a relay of the flat roof along with a conservation plan for the future preservation of the concrete components.
The complex is made up of a large, flat roofed, main chapel with an exterior pergola and a crematorium in the basement. In 1959 a small chapel was added along with an office wing. The construction is a monolithic, in-situ formwork with custom made blocks with Rothalit glass in the north and south façade. It was the first time this construction method was used in Denmark.
The building is visually framed by a heavy concrete brace surrounding the whole structure. The main walls are in an exposed, light concrete and the braces are rendered white. The chapel is part of the Mariebjerg cemetery complex in Gentofte which was designed by G.N. Brandt in 1936.
Prior to the project the roof surface was overgrown by greenery which over time had settled in the gravel. In addition to this, the poor drainage of rainwater created a critical condition for the weather resistance of the roof membrane. Furthermore, areas of the concrete facade were starting to show signs of cracking and damp. The pergola especially was heavily affected due to water ingress from the flat roof and the insufficient drainage system.
Due to the critical condition of the roof surface, the recondition of the roof, drainage and elimination of the main cold bridges was prioritised in the first phase of the project. However, this had to be executed within the geometry of the existing architectural expression of the chapel.
An additional exterior insulation was added to the majority of the roof surfaces. On the chapels, the insulation was added in heights respecting the existing cornice. On the remaining roofs (of 1959) it was decided to repair the roof by increasing the height of the cornice by 0,2 m. Whereby the overall building geometry would be retained. The insulation was cut in wedges to create a better roof slope and thereby obtain a better drainage of the surface area. Additionally, a line of new drains and gutters were installed. Lastly, the new cornice was rendered and painted in accordance with the remaining brickwork.
Following completion a line of smaller cold bridges still exist within the construction. However the completed project represents a sensible solution to preserve the main heritage assets and architectural value of the complex.
The roof of the pergola is structurally very complex and a final decision of whether to reconstruct, rebuild or partly restore is dependent upon the overall condition of the concrete and detailing for drainage and flashing. However, there is a particular focus on the possibility of restoring the original construction with cast in skylights which were replaced in 1982 by the current glass sheets.
Photos by Kontraframe