Location: Vorarlberg, Austria
Architect: Bernardo Bader Architekten
Bernardo Bader set up his office in Dornbin, Austria in 2003 after studying architecture at the University of Innsbruck. Bernardo Bader Architekten have completed numerous residences across Austria and are currently working on a cultural centre and mosque in Heilbronn, Germany. In 2013 Bader received the Aga Khan Award, rewarding excellence in architecture that addresses the needs of Islamic societies, for the Islamic Cemetery in Altach.
This project in the far-western Austrian town of Altach, is the country’s first-ever Islamic cemetery. Despite a steadily growing number of Muslim citizens over the past decades, the country previously had no dedicated place to bury them according to their religious beliefs once they died. The bereaved’s only choice was between a funeral without Islamic rites, followed by interment in a special part of a Christian cemetery, or transporting the remains of their loved-ones back to their country of origin – somewhere they might have left many decades before.
It wasn’t until 2003 that the Islamic communities and immigrant associations joined forces to begin planning for a dedicated Islamic cemetery. In September 2007 an architectural competition was held and won by Austrian architect Bernardo Bader. His design, consisting of a one-storey complex on an 8,500 square metre plot, holds some 700 graves. Largely made of red, fair-faced concrete and oak, this cemetery complex is as distinctly modern as it is discreet and contained. A quiet place without grand gestures, the Altach Cemetery demonstrates that tradition and the contemporary can look beautiful together – even in the face of death. I (fh)