Robson Memorial Centre


Olivia Bull

ARCH 500

In our society, death is a delicate subject, and we often eschew public expressions of grief and mourning, as we do not wish to be reminded of our own mortality. Similarly, in Vancouver, much architecture associated with end of life is unfortunately relegated to the city periphery, leaving urbanites no choice but to travel to the outskirts of town to visit a tombstone of a loved one, for instance.

Rather than sidestepping sadness, this project proposes The Robson Memorial Centre, situated in the heart of the West End in Vancouver. A non-denominational building devoted to celebrations of life, and providing a place to gather in the city centre to grieve together. The building has been conceived as a subtle balance between public-use garden space for reflection and repose and some more private areas—remembrance service halls and a columbarium, for example. The entrance to the private functions has been tucked onto the side street, though is signalled through the overhanging angular roof plane, and a sloped wall protects the interiority of the program from the hustle and bustle of busy Robson Street.

Following a study of various cultural expressions of grief after a death, water has been incorporated as both a purifying and contemplative feature of the design. There are two processional routes throughout the site, mirroring and aiding the grieving process. Ultimately, Robson Memorial Centre aims to bring people together in both sadness and happiness, providing a usable public amenity along with a much-needed central space for sorrow.