The interior is finished in dark materials with integrated lighting illuminating displays of objects and information. Visitors entering the site at the expanded car parking area reach the pavilion along a straight concrete path, passing the new sanitary block. Site plan – click for larger imageFloor plan – click for larger imageSite section – click for larger imageBuilding section – click for larger image Bruges-based Govaert Vanhoutte created an entrance pavilion and a new toilet block in response to the increasing number of people visiting the Tyne Cot Cemetery ahead of the centenary of the outbreak of the First World War. A smaller room to one side presents of information about the cemetery and the local area. “The dominant role of the existing architecture of the cemetery remains unchanged because of the rear placed position of the pavilion.”
The single-storey volume projects outwards from the slope and is propped up on pillars set back from its edges to lend it a sense of lightness. This minimal concrete and glass pavilion in Flanders, Belgium, by Govaert Vanhoutte Architectuurburo houses a visitor centre for the world’s largest Commonwealth war cemetery, where 11,956 servicemen of the First World War are buried or commemorated (+ slideshow). Its low profile further reduces its impact on the landscape, while glazed facades on two sides enable views towards the church tower of Passchendaele in one direction and the cemetery and battlefield in the other. The path is flanked on one side by a new concrete wall that matches the height of the historic cemetery wall opposite. Photography is by Tim Van de Velde. “Due to the nature of the cemetery, a sense of serenity is the base note for the whole site,” the architects explained in a statement. “The subtle way the concrete pavilions are designed and integrated underlines this general perception.”
The cemetery was originally designed in 1927 by English architect Sir Herbert Baker on a site given to the British Empire to recognise the sacrifices it made in the defence and liberation of Belgium during the war. The building features a subdued material palette and simple form to ensure it respects the existing architecture. “The building itself has a minimum height and a pure and horizontal form, so that it has a very subtle integration in the landscape,” the architects continued.