Hötting Columbarium Wall

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Hötting Columbarium Wall

An homage to the cycle of nature

The earth – the ground beneath our feet – is the basis for life. Literally. It plays a central role in many religions and is the origin of everything. When building with earthen clay, you can feel the creative power of the earth in a very concrete way. The building material comes from the earth – and can also become earth again at the end of the building’s lifecycle. A look at the urn wall made of rammed earth in the Höttingen cemetery in Innsbruck lets you feel all this intuitively.

A wall that connects

When you enter the cemetery through the entrance on Höhenstraße, your gaze falls directly on the 75-metre-long rammed earth wall, into which 166 niches for urns are set in an irregular pattern. The niches are enclosed with folded steel plates. The same steel material is used to cover the top of the wall.

Perhaps you are reminded of historical tombs carved into the rock face of a mountain or cliff. They were the inspiration for architect Renate Benedikter-Fuchs for the design.

The reminiscence for the historical burial rites of different cultures connects at once both across time and across cultural borders. This is further delineated by the fact that the wall is a burial place for different denominations and religions.

A place to linger

The interfaith cemetery is a place where all are welcome and where people meet respectfully. Quite deliberately, a space has been integrated into the urn wall where you can sit and rest.

A large niche with a historic cross, a fountain and a bench divides the columbarium in a ratio of one third to two thirds. The bench emerges from the wall, which is stepped down for it. The steel cover becomes the seat.

A building material of renewal

In addition to the design, the clay earth building material also contributes to the intuitive experience of connection with the cycles of nature. Clay earth is taken from the ground – and can theoretically be used without further processing.

People all over the world have been building with earthen clay for thousands of years. And they have done so again and again. Because clay earth can be recycled an unlimited number of times without diminishing its quality. To do this, it is simply mixed with water and can be used again thanks to its renewed plasticity.

If clay earth is not recycled, it can be returned to the earth. It then becomes the basis for new growth. And a new cycle begins.

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Clay Highlight:

Rammed clay as prefabricated elements from CLAYTEC

The columbarium is designed as a rammed earth wall. The rammed earth technique is one of the original techniques for building with earthen clay. For this building method, clay earth is placed in layers in a formwork and compacted. The production process creates the characteristic horizontal structure.

In Höttingen, prefabricated elements were used, which were produced in the factory and assembled on site. The 50 cm thick clay wall is constructed as a façade for the reinforced concrete retaining wall. This wall absorbs the terrain’s gradient to the street and buildings above.

A concrete base with drainage and splash protection, as well as the steel cover, protect the clay wall from moisture. The dark steel forms an exciting contrast to the earth-coloured wall surface.


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