In the centre of Ouderkerk aan de Amstel lies Beth Haim, one of the oldest Sephardic cemeteries in the world. In the past 700 years, many of the more than 28,000 graves of Amsterdam’s Portuguese Jewish community have sunk into the ground. Parts of the cemetery were difficult to reach.
Together with Loerakker Olsson Architects, Kossmanndejong developed plans to make the cemetery accessible. Mowed paths, benches, steps and bridges provide access to the special landscape. You can listen to stories via a free app. A freely accessible daylight pavilion provides visitors with an introduction. Models of the cemetery and 3D scans of graves are on display. A specially produced film provides background information on the traditions and customs surrounding Jewish burials and on the centuries-old history.
The pavilion is made of broken brick, craquelé glazed stones and oak benches and ceiling. Around it is a place to wash hands, sit and a drawer for yarmulkes. The entrance is a floor plan of natural stone. With the use of materials and the coherence of the design, we try to do justice to the transience and timelessness that is so typical of this special place. The pavilion can be visited daily in daylight (except on Saturdays).
Photos: Thijs Wolzak, Maurits Irizarri van Suchtelen