Project team:

Client: The Initiative Islamic Cemetery Dornbirn/A
Architects: Arch. Di Bernado Bader, Sven Matt
Prayer room artist: Azra Akšamija

20. Sep 2013


The Islamic Cemetry in Altach/AT

Text: Sonja Kiekens
Photos: Adolf Bereuter, Nikolaus Walter

When a place as sensitive as a cemetery is nominated for the Aga Khan Award of Architecture the design has to be truly convincing: a symbiosis of calm, peace, and time to contemplate and remember, but also a retreat for mourners to gather and share their grief. It is the power of light that links all these aspects and provides a framework for all related activities, giving individuals the opportunity to mourn their loved ones and overcome their loss in their own personal way.

The beautiful thing about light is that it is meaningful to all cultures, bringing them together, in a sense, at specific sensitive moments of their lives – as can be seen in Altach in Austria, where an Islamic cemetery has been constructed. The cemetery designed by architect Bernado Bader (Austria) and artist Azra Aksamija (Sarajevo/Bosnia) is the result of committed collaboration and a sensitive approach towards combining Muslim tradition and Austrian architecture.
The Islamic community in Austria has its origins in the years following the Second World War. During the phase of recovery and reconstruction in Europe large groups of workers moved northwards from the southern European countries, in particular young men from Turkey and what was formerly known as Yugoslavia, some of whom ended up in Austria. Contrary to all expectations, many of them decided to settle in Austria with their families. In the meantime, these families are already in the third generation and have added a further religious community to the otherwise Christian country: today there are more than 500,000 Muslims living in Austria.
The first migrant workers have reached an age when dying and the wish to be buried in their “new home” according to traditional Islamic rites has become an issue.

After initial discussions about the idea of constructing a second Islamic cemetery in Austria at the beginning of 2003, the plan finally went through nine years later. The brief was to build a cemetery facility that was minimalist, arabesque, and suffused with light. […]


The full version of the article can be found in PLD No. 89.
And our PLD magazine app (iPad App Store) contains a media-enhanced version.

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