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Title: Architecture towards a good death | The landscape of the dead in the world of the living
Authors: Hoshowsky, Lisa
Keywords: Life vs death;public vs private;sacred vs profane;deathscape;grief;liminal space;mortality;ritual;threshold;traditiion;zeitgeist
Issue Date: 7-Apr-2020
Abstract: An integral fact of life is death, it connects an individual to all times, peoples and places, but it is not a stagnant constant, it is a process firmly entrenched in each and every individual as well as the overall zeitgeist. Unfortunately, the majority of North Americans have an image of death often discordant to its reality, it is habitually viewed at best as an uncomfortable topic and at worst as a taboo. People are often not even aware of their own negative relationship to death and are therefore accepting of the uncomfortable association to it. This disconnect has left society with insufficient, lackluster and unsupportive death infrastructure. Yet death is intricately woven into the fabric of life, it is a constant companion that should be acknowledged, addressed and designed for and as an architect there is a moral obligation to consider not only the needs of the living inhabitants but those who will occupy the landscape indefinitely in death. Due to this link the definition of one encompasses the other, therefore life and death are not a line from one to the other but instead a circle with no perceptible break. Society has lost sight of the multi-generational aspect of death, causing this gap and calling for a solution to bridge the divide between life and death, closing the cycle between individuals. The thesis works to frame one of these moments in the cycle, allowing for both life and death to co-exist comfortably within one programmed space. The proposal, at its heart is a greenspace cum deathscape, integrated into the existing planned and natural landscape and then drawing people in with programs supportive of the acts encircling interment, celebrations, memorializations and rituals. It has been split into two main programs; one a symbol of welcoming for both casual visitors and those with a ritual purpose and the other a centre for those in all stages in life to come and leave a less tangible piece of themselves for others. Both are intended for use in everyday life in a way deemed respectful to its inhabitants while having an intrinsic connection to death. The path connecting these acts then as the threshold both guiding an individual through a journey of self discovery and tempering the transition from one stage to another. The proposed thesis looks at death history in Sudbury and its contemporary practices, the historic to modern tradition of Dia de los Muertos in Mexico, Memento Mori as both a concept and an art movement, as well as incorporating information learned from case studies before moving onto the site and the actual proposed design. The ideas surrounding it are laid out through both factual explorations as well as more abstract interpretations and personal art creations. In summary, places of death were not always shunned by the living but in an increasingly secular world people have lost sight of the rituals that give both life and death meaning. Dying a good death means many things to many people and it is up to architecture, and therefore architects, to support the process that is the most meaningful for the person and their bearers going through it.
Appears in Collections:Architecture - Master's Theses
Master's Theses

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