17 February 2019. We planned on leaving for Holsbeek early, because I wanted to shoot at sunrise, and while there was still some hoarfrost in place. I'd seen pictures shot in similar (but much colder; snowy?) conditions on the website of the architects, and I very much liked the mix of solemnity and starkness this kind of weather seemed to evoke.
As was to be expected, enjoying the typically slow-paced, weekend breakfast, followed by a lengthy car ride kind of threw a wrench in the plan, but we still managed to arrive at sunrise (more or less).
Not really showing on the images themselves, I remember it being quite chilly (not to mention, cold), even with the sun rising in the sky. It was totally worth it, though. The building's wonderful, and simultaneously lets you forget, and forces you to remember, its reason for being.
As seen from the walkway, and from behind the cortensteel plating, it feels like it's dominating the surrounding landscape. When looked at from outside, from across the water, it blends into the environment in the same, almost counterintuitive way as the Zwin's visitors centre.
We picked a sunday, so as not to have any visitors in the frame, nor to disturb them - this is an active crematory, after all. Our choice of day, and the fact that we didn't ask or arrange for entrance (our visit was more of a recce, after all) meant we weren't able to shoot the magnificent spaces inside. They are showcased here, here and here.
I absolutely love the way the light enters (or seemingly enters) the high-ceilinged spaces. They are reminiscent of the interior spaces of Blade Runner 2049's Wallace office, themselves a reworking (and in one particular case, a digital materialisation) of an almost unaltered 2010 museum design by architect Estudio Barozzi Veiga.
As some of you may know, I was trained as a theoretical archaeologist, with one focus on Neanderthal archaeology. So I was rather surprised to find the chain linking photography, architecture, and film, obviously all interests of mine, extending even further and coming full circle when realising that the as-of-yet unbuilt design was to become the 'Neanderthal Museum' in Piloña, Spain. The inner spaces of the building, and obviously even more so of the film, could serve as a stark and rectilinear re-interpretation of Ken Adam's equally grand and minimalistic, but more curvilinear set designs.
In hindsight, and right of the bat, I can picture two conditions in which I'd like to reshoot the building: with either the lightest blanket of snow (and some gentle snowfall, if you please ?) or a fully-developed layer of hoarfrost, or, alternatively, with plants in full growth under a blue sky dotted with cumulus clouds. Hold the replicants (and those obnoxious palm trees).
I couldn't chose between the following two. The palm trees may be somewhat less conspicuous in the first one I suppose ... perhaps that counts for something ?