A restaurant with a coffee bar is to be opened at the former crematorium of the Bremgarten cemetery in Bern.
Promoters say they not only want to cater for funeral meals but, above all, to provide a meeting place. ”Why not accompany death with life?” Silvana Pletscher, director of Berne’s cremation cooperative, is quoted as saying in the local Tamedia newspapers on Saturday.
The project has not yet received the final green light from the authorities, but it has a good chance of obtaining it. Berne’s monument protection service has already given its approval and regulations have been drawn up with the city for the use of the old urn room.
With the restaurant in the Bremgarten cemetery, Switzerland would be venturing into unknown territory.
In Germany, for example, there are already cemetery cafes in some cities, such as Berlin. The Krema Festival, organised near the Bremgarten cemetery’s old crematorium, is a step in the same direction. From 12 to 14 August, it will offer a varied cultural programme, with readings, music, a photo exhibition, booths and a funeral ritual in the form of stand-up comedy.
Gastronomy will also be available.
Mourning and commemorating loved ones and friends are changing. Ever fewer people want to be buried in a row in a conventional cemetery, opting instead for freer formats. Many institutions have taken this development into account. Cemeteries are increasingly being seen as green islands in an urban landscape.
In Berne, sheep sometimes graze there to clear brush, because cemeteries are also important for biodiversity.