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Theatre of Life&Death

In Cemeteries on November 18, 2013 at 10:20 am

More important thinking and designing from design for death architecture

By Architecture Practice + Experimentation-Jeffrey Bolhuis-Laurence Lord from Denmark

designers’ own words:

When somebody passes away, the bereaved find comfort in the age old traditional rituals and processes of laying their loved one to rest. This is not going to change. However there is an increasing trend towards the personalisation of these traditions. Already there is a wide choice in the various details associated with the ceremony but the architectural setting is always fixed. Why not let people decide the spatial experience for this very important and personal ceremony?


Theatre of Life&Death proposes to utilize techniques already present in modern theatres to create one highly flexible space that can cater for a large variety of all types of required atmospheres. Mobile lightweight architecture allows for alternative entrance and exit procedures; moving walls can reduce or increase spaces for different capacities so that it never feels empty; quick lighting changes, textured curtains and walls can alter the mood and the façades & roof can open up to bring the celebrants closer to nature.





Post-Community atop high-rise concept!

In Cemeteries on November 15, 2013 at 9:30 am

design for death architecture

POST-COMMUNITY by Marta Piaseczynska + Rangel Karaivanov from austria

img_4_1378075605_920e51e2ec59e3bf8a96dec31e389cae img_2_1378075605_100b8178d9508ec45a172a9d1091d480 img_3_1378075605_28b3cee4b0daa9d36e96b763560e191e img_1_1378075605_dd25f52151457d0ec488059c013b1659 

designer’s own words:

In times of accelerating urbanization and densification as well as an increase of the amount of visual media occupying the space of the city, cemeteries face the challenge of keeping up their relevance as a public urban space. Historically cemeteries were at the periphery of the city, over time they were integrated into the urban fabric as a network of green recreational areas. They are able to create an atmosphere of silence and piece but loose significance in the media loaded city of today.

Our project tries to develop a mediated cemetery that works as an interface between the city and the community of the decedents. The starting point for this was Aldo Rossi’s design for the cemetery in Modena, a house for urns, with no roof, no doors and no floors. It is a building that represents a community, a city of the passed-away. Our concept was to give this community a way to communicate with its environment by forming and changing space and light. Built on to an existing building in the centre of a city it would be visible from multiple viewpoints all over the city. Every urn describes a pixel of a three dimensional screen that displays its dynamics to the surrounding.

The design consists of four main elements; the crematory, a two storey plinth that sits on top of an existing building; a spiral ramp that leads to the main space of remembrance and creates an atmosphere of procession; the atrium space which consists of a glass-mirrored floor to reflect the sky and the cloud of urns to remove the ground and place the visitor in the centre of a space with no horizon; the frame and the movable urns which define and constantly change the volume, light and atmosphere of the space.

By calling out the name of the decedent, the urn will move towards the visitor; the other urns adapt their positions in order to make the way free for the called urn. Though this not only single urns but entire family trees or other connected people like school classes etc, can be called at the same time to move towards the visitor. This creates a dynamic that is communicated towards the city.

The urn itself consists out of a container for the ash, a space for memorabilia and a light that can be edited and reprogrammed by the visitor. It is fabricated out of light-weight translucent composite materials and aluminium for all mechanical parts. It is connected over three points to the frame and moves on rails through induction. Each urn moves according to a set of rules, the entity of urns develops complex motion.

The way up is long.. the only sound you can here is the whistling of the urns that move smoothly inside the frame, the humming of far distant city life three-hundred feet below. You hear a man calling a name, not the name of a person but of a company. Twenty-seven urns start to move towards him and organize so that they are all next to each other. He places a stone in each one of them, waits a minute and leaves. The urns, as organized as they were before move back into the complex cloud of the cemetery. At the end of the ramp you finally reach the atrium space; a space with no ground. It is difficult to describe the space you are in as it is constantly changing the form, the light, the wind blowing through the gaps, the atmosphere. A small group of people are gathered; a person dressed in black places a new urn into the grid. Everyone walks to the urn, waits for a second or two and continues walking. After the last member of the group, the urn closes slowly and disappears into the cloud to join the community.


Be sure to view the video to see this amazing concept in action:



ASHES & WATER. A columbarium in a pond….

In Cemeteries, Cremation on November 13, 2013 at 3:21 pm

Another amazing funeral design concept!

ASHES & WATER. a columbarium in a pond

ASHES & WATER. a columbarium in a pond by il.balan from mexico

designer’s own words:

The typology of cemeteries until early XXI century have been developed in a horizontal way increasing by the time their footprint and creating “Cities for the Dead”, which usually are seen as distant sites for “rest” where people remember their loved ones. Far away from the daily life, grieving process begins with the burial where family and friends back home feeling as dead as the corpse they just bury.
With this in mind, we propose to shorten the distance between “cities of the dead” and the daily life by introducing underwater columbariums in public spaces like pond parks.
We believe that if people have a closer contact with death and its consequences, when the death of a loved one happens, they can have grieving processes more natural and effective. Life and death are two sides of the same coin.

Following common process of making concrete; sand, gravel, cement, water, air and ashes of the deceased are mixed to form a remembrance block that their loved ones insert in a wall with triangle niches after funeral services. This concrete block becomes part of the columbarium. Also gives people a new experience of remembrance and consciousness about death, rituals of cremation and the beginning of grieving process. The remembrance block weight is similar to that of a newborn, so, the circle of life and death is closed. Blocks contain only the name and year of birth of the deceased. If we die when people forget us, death is just a physical state of change.

The pond reflects the park: a metaphor of the other world (death).A typical pond in a park is drained. After the columbarium is builded, the pond is refilled.

videoThe columbarium now is a public space for consciousness about death and bereavement.Triangle shape of the columbarium gives visitors the sense of a long corridor (the trip of life).Human ashes become part of the building.Life and death: two sides of the same coin.

…in the spirit of post-All Souls’ Day….

In Uncategorized on November 4, 2013 at 7:34 am

The Beauty of Death: Catacomb Saints
Photographed by Paul Koudounaris
October 24, 2013

The Beauty of Death: Catacomb Saints Photographed by Paul Koudounaris history death bones
St. Albertus

The Beauty of Death: Catacomb Saints Photographed by Paul Koudounaris history death bones
St. Valerius in Weyarn

The Beauty of Death: Catacomb Saints Photographed by Paul Koudounaris history death bones
Hand of St. Valentin

The Beauty of Death: Catacomb Saints Photographed by Paul Koudounaris history death bones
St. Benedictus

The Beauty of Death: Catacomb Saints Photographed by Paul Koudounaris history death bones
Skull of St. Getreu in Ursberg

The Beauty of Death: Catacomb Saints Photographed by Paul Koudounaris history death bones
St. Friedrich at the Benedictine abbey in Melk

The Beauty of Death: Catacomb Saints Photographed by Paul Koudounaris history death bones
St. Valentinus in Waldsassen

The Beauty of Death: Catacomb Saints Photographed by Paul Koudounaris history death bones
Relic of St. Deodatus in Rheinau

The Beauty of Death: Catacomb Saints Photographed by Paul Koudounaris history death bones

In 1578 word spread of the discovery in Rome of a network of underground tombs containing the remains of thousands of early Christian martyrs. Many skeletons of these supposed saints were soon removed from their resting place and sent to Catholic churches in Europe to replace holy relics that were destroyed during the Protestant Reformation. Once in place the skeletons were then carefully reassembled and enshrined in costumes, wigs, jewels, crowns, gold lace, and armor as a physical reminder of the heavenly treasures that awaited in the afterlife.

Over the past few years photographer Paul Koudounaris who specializes in the photography of skeletal reliquaries, mummies and other aspects of death, managed to gain unprecendented access to various religious institutions to photograph many of these beautifully macabre shrines for the first time in history. The photos have been collected into a book titled Heavenly Bodies released by Thames & Hudson early next month. (via Hyperallergic)

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