Petr Hájek Architekti Designs Hunting Grounds, a Templelike Pet Crematorium in Žižice

Photography by Radek Úlehla/Coatmen.


Although the U.S. ranks highest in pet-care spending per person, the Czech Republic is among the top 20 countries of dog and cat populations. At Hunting Grounds, a templelike crematorium in Žižice by Petr Hájek Architekti, man’s best friends can not only get a special sendoff but their owners may also experience what the great beyond might look like for them. The site itself is unique: a 3,000-square-foot decommissioned military bunker. It’s one of several at the Drnov Air Defense Site, the Cold War fortification turned museum and tourist destination situated approximately 25 miles northwest of Prague. The underground concrete structure remains mostly in its original form, except for an ethereal transformation near the building’s entrance. Running perpendicular to a pair of concrete-block walls, Petr Hájek installed a monumental panel finished with a reflective mirrorlike surface that channels the works of Anish Kapoor and Richard Serra. “It’s like moving toward a liquid wall,” Hájek says of the 20-by-36-foot expanse onto which he and his team glued 6,000 pieces of aluminum-coated polycarbonate by hand, so that each has a slightly different tilt and angle. The resulting image is a mosaic abstraction of the surrounding landscape that seems to shimmer and flicker as visitors walk by. “It’s like a gate to another dimension,” the architect notes, “and adds a mystical feeling.”

Photography by Radek Úlehla/Coatmen.

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