Design of a Mortuary facility

Many years ago, people and the society in general did not care so much about dying individuals, thus there was no dignity accorded to them. They were perceived as ‘unclean’ and so they were taken far away from their homesteads and left there to face the fate of death. With time, people learnt the need to have a proper send off for the deceased as a way of showing love and respect. Accommodating them in their living spaces as proper funeral arrangements were made was an important aspect of showing that they were highly valued by their families. It was the sole responsibility of the family members to take care of the deceased body until its final disposal.
A mortuary facility was later developed in order to cater for the needs of the deceased. With the involvement of health professionals and use of modern technology, better ways of preserving dead bodies have been established. This has allowed the bereaved to keep the deceased bodies in a secure place for a longer period of time as appropriate funeral arrangements are made. In the mortuary, it is solely the responsibility of the morticians to take care of these dead bodies.
The mortuary occupies a special place in the society. Its role in the grieving process cannot be overlooked. By being within its environs, the bereaved take the first step towards emotional adjustment to their loss. The type of environment created play an enormous role in the healing process of the bereaved. It is also an environment that bring together people who have not met for a long period of time to mourn their loss.
The facility has a dual role; it serves both the living (the staff and mourners) and the dead. This study seeks to investigate how the needs of these users impact on the design of a mortuary facility. It is crucial for the design team to understand the type of spaces that should be provided and their respective functions. Other aspects such as: the choice of site, circulation, choice of building materials, waste handling and management, contribution of landscaping to the overall aesthetics of a building, lighting and ventilation are important when designing such a facility so as to ensure the needs of all its users are met.
A clear understanding on how a mortuary operates will lead to provision functional spaces that will be environmentally viable and socially accepted by the staff and general public. Within the urban context, funeral homes have gained popularity and great acceptance as compared to the rural areas. They are viewed as business opportunity just like any other commercial activity. This is evident by the many privately owned mortuaries that are being developed in the country. (Fig. 1-1 and Fig. 1-2) show the modern types of mortuary facilities within Nairobi.

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