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The Forest Path

Award category
Reconnecting with nature
You want to submit
NEW EUROPEAN BAUHAUS AWARDS: existing completed examples
Project title
The Forest Path
Full project title
A new model of cemetery in an exceptional environment

The Forest Path is an intervention based on respect and conservation of the environment in the natural setting of Collserola Park. An ecological, attractive and suitable construction for the burial of the ashes that biodegrades 100% in one generation. It is an extension of the Roques Blanques regional cemetery; a cemetery, with more than 30 years of history, that has known how to adapt to changes by adopting new paradigms of burial.

What was the geographical scope of your project?
El Papiol
Does your project address mainly urban or rural issues?
It addresses urban-rural linkages
Does your project refer to a physical transformation of the built environment or other types of transformations?
It refers to a physical transformation of the built environment ('hard investment')
Has your project benefited from EU programmes or funds?
Has your project won an EU prize?
Your project is fully completed?
When was your project implemented?
How did you hear about the New European Bauhaus Prizes ?
On whose behalf are you submitting the application?
As a representative of an organisation
Please provide a summary of your project

The project is located inside Roques Blanques Metropolitan Cemetery at Papiol, Barcelona. The facility has a 50 ha lot, integrated within the realm of Collserola’s natural Park, and it currently occupies 30% of the available area. The intervention regards the development of cluster 6 of the cemetery, with a surface of 2.000 m2, and generates a large elongated green terrace that includes a path, the Forest Path, prepared to host a total of 1,100 new graves. This intervention, based on the conservation and respect for the environment in the natural setting of Collserola Park is part of the latest extension of the cemetery. A cemetery inaugurated in 1985, with the recovery of Can Tintorer estate and the first cluster, number 1, one of the first projects ever committed by Batlleiroig office.

The 30-year-old Roques Blanques cemetery has been able to adapt to changes in customers’ demands, proposing new burial paradigms, aiming at facilitating the memory and the relationship of families with their deceased. The tight professional relationship with the client, Altima, developer and manager of the cemetery, and the common interest for the respect of the environment and nature, have allowed us to propose an avant-garde proposal for new burial forms, ecological and 100% biodegradable.

Please indicate the main themes of your project with 5 key words
Innovative cemetery
Biodegradable solution
Biodiversity enhancer
Technified margin
Optimizing resources
Please give information about the key objectives of your project in terms of sustainability (including circularity) and how these have been met.
Please highlight how the project can be exemplary in this context

The Forest Path is 95,5 meters long and a wall height of 1,5 meters along 7 levels, with a width of 2 meters for the wall and 1 meter for the path, located on the inside of the landscaped terrace with a varying width between 8 and 10 meters.

Learning from the beavers who build their shelters from tree trunks, branches and soil, generating true ecological and biodegradable constructions resembling water dams on river basins, the proposed Krainer wall is made up of a double mesh of Montseny chestnut Ø20/25 cm tree trunks bound with pegs, creating an aerated structure filled with earth and pebbles, and a high density Ø30 cm coco coir bio-roll structured with 45mm coconut mesh hosting the newly planted shrubs.

During the first years, the slope will be held by the wooden structure, and as this starts to decompose, the rooted plants will substitute it and will be enough to retain soil and hold the natural slope permanently. This method also improves the control of runoff water, air quality, and both shelter and food is generated for local fauna such as reptiles and small rodents, in addition to all kinds of insects.

The organic urns for the ashes of the graves are also made of chestnut wood, and are located in the void spaces of the mesh, generating a construction with local materials that becomes part of the natural bio-dynamics of the forest where it is located.

Please give information about the key objectives of your project in terms of aesthetics and quality of experience beyond functionality and how these have been met.
Please highlight how the project can be exemplary in this context

The Krainer wall becomes the most suitable place to locate the so-called ‘Garden of Butterflies’. A new burial space that houses specific plant species and allows the creation of an aromatic and appropriate environment to give life to a wide variety of pollinating insects, including butterflies.

The Krainer wall has been designed considering the importance of orientation and protection against atmospheric agents such as wind, becoming a protected and intensely sunny place, which ensures a generous and prolonged flowering during the year and protects the useful fauna of the place. To favor the presence of butterflies, shrub and herbaceous species have been selected with showy blooms and intense and contrasting colors. These species produce nectar as the main food of adult individuals, and their edible leaves nourish individuals in the larval stage.

The selected vegetation is autochthonous and adapted to local conditions, thus species such as rosemary, lavender, santolinas, dorycniums and thyme have been planted, making reference to Mediterranean brollas and accompanied by other herbaceous plants such as oregano. , the chamomile and the maritime feverfew, so appreciated by our little insects.

Please give information about the key objectives of your project in terms of inclusion (equal opportunities, public participation, citizen engagement, co-design, universal design, accessibility, affordability, etc.) and how these have been met.
Please highlight how the project can be exemplary in this context

This technique has been chosen to accomplish the appropriate and controled burial of ashes in a specific and attractive space suited for this, providing buried graves in a natural environment. This biodegradable ensemble has an expected lifespan of 30 years (one generation) until it goes back to the state of the original forest, to be used as a mourning and visiting space by relatives remembering their deceased.

Please explain how these three dimensions have been combined in your project.
Please highlight how this approach can be exemplary

The Forest Path acts as a true enhancer of biodiversity that revitalizes the spaces of use of the Collserola natural park, functioning as an educational resource to observe and identify the flora and fauna of our environment and becoming a dynamic and open space that collaborates with the awareness of citizens and brings them closer to nature.

Please give information on the results/impacts achieved by your project in relation to the category you apply for

The solution adopted is a solution inspired by nature and its dynamics: for its construction only natural materials from the closest environment are used, thus optimizing resources. The structure generated is flexible to the preexistence of the place and adapts very well to external forces, increasing the resilience of the system. The planting of native species with attractive flowering for pollinating insects, acts as an enhancer of biodiversity, strengthening the ecosystem.

Please explain how citizens and civil society were involved in the in the design and/or implementation of the project.
Please also explain the benefits that derived from their involvement.

This technology that combines living and dead materials and evolves over time, evokes the cycle of life, an intrinsic concept in cemeteries: man is part of this process in which the interdependence between human beings and nature is respected.

Please explain what kind of global challenges the project addressed by providing local solutions

In recent years, traditional graves based on the burial of the deceased, such as tombs, pantheons, niches, ossuaries and columbariums, have been losing demand in favor of a growing interest in cremation and new family rites of farewell from the ashes, that allow new forms of burial with less environmental impact. In this case, an innovative system based on bioengineering applied to the landscape is proposed to create the Forest path and the Butterfly garden.

Please highlight the innovative character of the project as compared to mainstream practices in the field of the project.

In recent years, traditional graves based in the burial of the deceased, tombs, pantheons, niches, ossuaries, columbariums, have lost demand against an increasing interest for cremation, and new ways of farewell regarding the ashes. While traditional burials demand hard constructions requiring large land areas, and need complex draining systems that avoid the polluting filtration of toxic leachate flowing from decomposing bodies, the burial of ashes allow new graveyards with less environmental impact, such as the ‘forest of stillness’, the ‘family trees’, or the ‘repose fountain’. Thus, the Krainer wall is proposed. An innovative system based on bioengineering applied to the landscape to create ‘the Forest Path and the Garden of butterflies’.

The Krainer wall presents a number of advantages: it is the natural retaining system that generates the large green terrace located at the northern side of the Collserola mountain range, allowing for a suitable and accessible space for new graves, incorporating the existing trees and adding new local species. Its design is conceived to be built quickly with natural materials from the immediate surroundings.

It is a technology that combines dead and living materials, often called double ‘live mesh’, which evolves over time, relating the degradation of dead elements (trunks) with the roots and the growth of living elements (plants with bright chromatic blooms), in a natural dynamic that evokes the intrinsic life cycle in the idiosyncrasy of a cemetery, as a meeting point between people and their ancestors, over time.

Please explain to the potential of transferring the projects’ results or learnings to other interested parties and contexts.
Please provide clear documentation, communication of methodology and principles in this context.

The ‘Garden of Butterflies’ acts as a true biodiversity enhancer that revitalizes the use spaces of the Collserola Natural Park, an educational resource to observe, identify and study insects and plants in our environment. Becoming a dynamic and open space that collaborates with the awareness of citizens, bringing them closer to nature.

A new model of cemetery, a path in the Forest, which reactivates a corner of the Collserola natural park, becoming the best place to deposit the ashes. A technified margin that combines dead and living materials, a 100% biodegradable solution that adapts to the natural dynamics of the forest. The place where to say goodbye to the deceased becomes a Butterfly Garden. An enhancing margin of biodiversity that revitalizes the spaces of use of the Collserola Natural Park. A new biotope for insects and small animals where the roots of plants fix the soil and retain moisture, and plants and flowers provide food and accompany family members in the farewell of loved ones.

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