Renovation of Nazareth park cemetery: final resting place becomes a green oasis

01/08/2023 - 08:11

The park cemetery in the town of Nazareth in Belgium is getting a complete makeover. After the construction of a new section of the cemetery, work is currently underway to renovate the existing cemetery. Contractor Dirk Bauwens NV is in charge of the works. We speak with project manager Thomas Bauwens.

We meet at the yard. Thomas is just wrapping up the day with a construction site inspection.

About Dirk Bauwens NV

Dirk Bauwens NV is a family business, focusing on environmental works for businesses, public authorities and industry.

The company was founded in 1963. Dirk Bauwens has more than 40 years of experience in carrying out environmental work for both public authorities and the private sector. Both son and daughter followed in his footsteps.

Son Thomas Bauwens studied industrial and civil engineering construction. He is also a drone pilot to monitor construction sites. Hence the beautiful photos for this article.

His sister Anneleen Bauwens also works in the company as a project manager and is also an industrial engineer in construction engineering and a management trainee at Vlerick Business School.

Hi Thomas. Great that you are making time for us.

No problem.

I'm happy to explain the project.

Shall I show you around?

Gladly. I had seen your aerial photos on social media. I am keen to see the project up close.

What exactly is a park cemetery: can you define it?

A park cemetery is a green cemetery, where the proportion of grave monuments is rather limited and the greenery prevails. So, you can find comfort and peace in nature. This cemetery was designed by architect Cindy Van Caeneghem of CVC Planning in Ghent.

It’s beautiful. Where are we standing, Thomas?

This is yet a non-renovated part of the cemetery. We still need to remove the turf and re-seed. If we turn around for a moment, you can see what we are working toward.

This sector was sown last week with a mixture of Barenbrug Water Saver with clover to provide a drought-resistant cover

The top layer was enriched with TerraCottem turf and compost. Throughout the entire project, we used 120,000 kg of green compost and 820 kg of TerraCottem turf soil conditioner for the turf and also TerraCottem arbor for planting the trees and shrubs.

What made you decide to use TerraCottem soil conditioner?

This is an extremely high draining soil. The sandy soil is not only raised but also drained to keep water out of the burial chambers.

We purchased the TerraCottem at Luc Pauwels NV.

I see that there are also a lot of new pavements. Can you give us some figures?

There are indeed a lot of them.

  • We are placing 1,010 m² of concrete slabs, like the one we just walked on.
  • In addition, 920 m² of semi-paving supplied with biopolymers from the company Koers.
  • There is also 270 m² of synthetic grass tiles: TerraCottem turf was incorporated into the substrate.
  • Finally, 130 m² of baked pavers were also installed.

I could clearly see this section in the aerial photo. What exactly is this​?

This is a "wadi". A wadi is an Arabic word. It’s main purpose is water drainage and infiltration. A wadi stores rainwater and purifies it, after which the water infiltrates into the subsoil. Thus, the wadi helps against flooding and drought.

We continue our walk... Are we in a new section here?

Yes. In this new section, 127 new double burial chambers were installed. Due to the COVID outbreak, the municipality was struggling with excess mortality, which unfortunately made the expansion necessary.

On top of the burial chambers is a top layer of 25 cm. In the top 10-15 cm, we incorporated TerraCottem turf. We couldn't go any deeper, so as not to damage the moisture barrier fabric protecting the chambers. Again, we worked with a very sandy build-up for optimal drainage.

This is quite a large project. We prepared, sowed and planted 5,600 m² in addition to the 2,500 m² in renovation. That’s a total of 8,100 m² but it’s likely there will be some extra m2 with the land elevations.

And behind that fence, there is still room for additional expansion in the future.

You also planted a lot of hedge plants…

Well spotted. To be precise: 1,850 Carpinus betulus hedge plants for 350 metres of hedges (sometimes double and sometimes in beds).

And many trees as well.

Yes, a deliberate choice. Not only for aesthetics, but also to provide shade during hot summer days.

We take great care when planting trees. For instance, we used TerraCottem arbor everywhere so that the trees establish well. Aeration is also provided and root guidance systems to protect the urns and burial chambers. Each tree is also fitted with a water saving planting ring.

We planted a total of 59 trees, including some multi-stemmed trees. All are native species:

  • Amelanchier arborea 'Robin Hill' (AA) - HT 10/12, wire coppice: 6 pieces
  • Tilia cordata 'Bohlje' (T) - HT 16/18, wire root ball: 15 pieces
  • Quercus robur (QE) - HT 16/18, wire root ball: 1 piece
  • Amelanchier lamarckii (AL) - multi-stemmed shrub 200-250, minimum 4 branches, wire root ball: 28 pieces
  • Cercis siliquastrum (CS) - multi-stemmed shrub 200-250, minimum 4 branches, wire root ball: 8 pieces

Climate change was taken into account: space was created for water, combined with drought-resistant species.

I read that this park cemetery also has a "sedum mound". What exactly is that?

A "sedum mound" is an embankment, a small mound, into which urns are inserted that are biodegradable. They are made of natural material. Once buried in the soil, the bio urn will break down completely after a while.

Interesting. I hadn't heard of that. Are there any other special areas on the site?

Yes there are. Here we are in the newly planted "urn forest". Compostable ash urns are also used here. These are buried in the open ground, among the trees. After burial, the exact location is no longer visible, it’s anonymous.

And here we are at the new urn crypts. Unlike the urn forest, this site offers the option to place a nameplate and flowers. We are placing a total of 75 urn crypts.

And there is also a scatter garden. The park cemetery will offer plenty of options to provide loved ones with the final resting place. And to come and visit them afterwards in a very peaceful and natural setting.

Thanks for the tour, Thomas. Good luck with your future projects!

See also the report on PlatteLandsTV:

More informatie on Dirk Bauwens NV?

Dirk Bauwens NV

Schildekenstraat 20
9940 Kluizen

T: 09 357 34 80


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