AR Awards for Emerging Architecture

Honourable mention



Santo Stefano al Mare, Italy

December 2006
Commended in the AR Awards of 2003 for their extension to a Ligurian cemetery (AR December 2003), Aldo Amoretti and Marco Calvi impressed the jury with another project for a contemporary necropolis. This extension to the small municipal cemetery of Santo Stefano al Mare on the south-western tip of Liguria is more modest in scale and budget (250 euros per sqm), the challenge being to provide dignified, affordable burial plots.
The roughly crescent-shaped site runs along the south-eastern edge of the existing cemetery overlooking the town's seafront. A proposed cycleway and promenade are currently under construction between the terraced plateau of the cemetery and the sea, so in some ways, the necropolis becomes part of the urban fabric. To make the most of limited space, physical remains are housed in pristine, prismatic blocks, each with space for three or four bodies stacked horizontally in separate tomb chambers. The short faces of the blocks are faced with palely veined white marble, which adds a suitably honorific touch, but their less prominent long sides are left as raw concrete.
In keeping with Catholic tradition, in which the dead tend to be moved around at regular intervals, individual remains are left in the tombs for a 40 year period and then eventually transferred to a communal repository.
The powerful, sculptural austerity of the blocks provides an antidote to the more hectic excesses of Catholic cemeteries, and the jury also admired the project’s sensitivity in reinterpreting the necropolis for the modern age. C. S.

Aldo Amoretti, Marco Calvi,
Giancarlo Ranalli, Sanremo
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