A Mirror on Nature

John Hill
21. January 2021
Photo: Radek Úlehla/coatmen

Architect Petr Hájek recently completed a pet crematorium inserted into an old military bunker about a one-hour drive from Prague. Named Věčná loviště (Hunting Grounds), the crematorium is hidden behind a new wall of mirrors that reflects nature and adds, in the architect's words, "a mystic feeling to the landscape."

The "surreal feeling" that Hájek further describes about the design arises from the hexagonal pieces of the new facade and the fact each piece was installed with a slightly different tilt and angle. The resulting reflection creates a pixelated or flickering effect, but the architect contends it also "adds symbolism to the place." People who bring their beloved pets to the crematorium to say goodbye "look into the mirror [but] do not see themselves in the present moment." Rather they see "their reflection in the past. They look back, recall their memories…"

Take a tour through Hájek's Hunting Grounds pet crematorium below.

The old bunker is completely underground save the single elevation covered with the wall of mirrors. (Photo: Benedikt Markel)
A large door is hidden in one corner of the mirrored facade. (Photo: Benedikt Markel)
While it might seem that this hidden door would be the main entrance... (Photo: Radek Úlehla/coatmen)
... it is actually a service entrance, with the main entrance located in one of the wing walls perpendicular to the new facade. (Photo: Radek Úlehla/coatmen)
Through the door is small reception area with wooden bench; existing walls, such as the one on the right, were whitewashed throughout. (Photo: Radek Úlehla/coatmen)
The hallway leads to the foyer and another simple wood bench. (Photo: Benedikt Markel)
Another narrow hall was formed by inserting the "Last Farewell" room into the middle of the plan; the opening on the existing wall on the right leads to what is presumably a ventilation shaft. (Photo: Radek Úlehla/coatmen)
From the foyer, visitors move inside "Last Farewell" room, which is simple, with white surfaces and wooden doors. (Photo: Benedikt Markel)
One last look at the "flickering" wall of mirrors. (Photo: Radek Úlehla/coatmen)
Project: Pet Crematorium Hunting Grounds, 2020
Location: Drnov 61, Žižice 274 01, Czech Republic
Client: Věčná loviště
Architect: Petr Hájek ARCHITEKTI
  • Project Team: Petr Hájek, Martin Stoss, Cornelia Klien
Construction: 1PS s.r.o.  
Built Area: 250 m2
The floor plan shows the entrance and public spaces on the right, with the technical spaces on the left, behind the mirrored door. (Drawing: Petr Hájek ARCHITEKTI)
The top section shows the bunker's ventilation shaft, while the bottom section illustrates the erection of the wall of mirrors in front of the existing facade. (Drawing: Petr Hájek ARCHITEKTI)

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