Table of Contents
Layout and Features
The layout of columbarium is simple, but practical. It is a three-dimensional indoor wall, constructed with concrete as a whole.
The features of Mandai columbarium include:
- Due to the open space design, there is no need for 24-hour air conditioning and lighting, which is more energy-saving and electricity-saving.The cost of management and maintenance is relatively low.
- The appearance of the building is bright in colour, consistent with the overall landscape of Mandai Crematorium building, presenting a lively and not depressing atmosphere.
- The front and rear double-layer design of a single columbarium wall allows two niches to be placed in one position. This is maximizing the efficiency of space usage.
- The columbarium plaque allows family members to present artificial flowers. The name and religious signs are allowed to be engraved on the plaque even though the private decoration is prohibited. This is acceptable by most people.
- The overall design does not emphasize on a certain culture and religion, which is suitable for the needs of diverse ethnic groups.
During the period of Qing Ming Festival (or Tomb Sweeping Festival), the Singapore government will not specifically prepare the set up for the public. The visitors will need to bring their own tables to find vacant places and put their own worship items. After the worship, the people will collect their own tables by themselves and free up the spaces for others. Having said that, the visitors are willing to do so without complaint. Besides, the management of Mandai columbarium has reserved a burning area for the visitors to burn the incense papers or other worship items. However, there is no control on the types and quantities of burning items.
1. Building Structure
The Mandai Crematorium is built with modern design, warm atmosphere and elderly-friendly environment. The crematorium is located in the outskirts of the northern part of Singapore Island, about 20 minutes’ drive from the city area. The complex is operated by the Government of Singapore under the National Environment Agency. In 1982, the Mandai columbarium and crematorium was completed, it consists of 8 cremators and 1200 niches. In 2000, the government decided to extend the complex to increase the service capacity. The extension of crematorium was completed in May 2004 and commenced operations on July 1st 2004. The complex consists of multiple blocks of two-story buildings. Most local celebrities are cremated in this crematorium, including the former prime minister of Singapore, Mr. Lee Kuan Yew.
As of today, there are total 4 viewing halls and 12 cremators. It also has the waiting room for family members, temporary storage room for cremation ashes, the office area and service hall. There is a spacious underground parking lots for visitors. Each service hall could accommodate about 100 people. The daily quantify of deceased cremation is at maximum of 58. The total annual cremation quantity is about 10,000. It is accounting for about 60% of the country.
The cremation fee for adults and children over 10 years old will be charged $100 per person while the children under 10 years old will be charged $50 per child. The cremation service hours starts at 9am and end at 8:45pm.
2. Indoor Design
The characteristic of the Mandai crematorium is that the seating design of the viewing area in the auditorium breaks the traditional flat style, imitating the staircase style of the theatre. So that everyone who attends the funeral could clearly watch the funeral proceeding, and the sight is not hindered by the people who seated in the front rows.
The first floor of each hall is the cremation area, equipped with 3 cremation furnaces. The coffins are fed into the cremation furnaces by electric rails before cremation. After the farewell ceremony, family members or guests can go to the observing room on the second floor to send off their loved ones.
The operation of the push rail and the door of the cremation furnace are all controlled by an officer who is professionally trained. There are two cremation furnace doors. The first one is similar to a movable wall. It is used to block the sight of the family members or guests. When the coffin is pushed to the front of the furnace about 3 meters, the movable door opens immediately. Once the coffin crosses the door, the movable door opens. When it is closed, it enters the background operation stage, so family members will not see the moment when the coffin is pushed into the raging fire with their own eyes, so as to avoid having too much visual and emotional impact.
During the waiting time for cremation, there is a Japanese-style grief counselling room for family members to rest. After the cremation is completed, the family members could go to the temporary storage room to collect the remains.
The design of Mandai crematorium is not only humane, it is also very well-maintained. Walking into the crematorium, people will feel a peaceful and harmonious atmosphere. Even when the family members are full of sadness, the ambience is giving a sense of relief.
Note: In 2015, to meet the growing demand the population, the government announced to expand the crematorium further after 2019. After the completion of new extension, it will have six service halls, six viewing halls, three waiting halls and 18 cremators. When the time this article is written, the expansion of crematorium has not been completed yet.
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