Next Project
SOM Foundation UK Award

A Place of Remembrance

Part 1 Project 1999
Kavi Kittani
London Metropolitan University | UK
The brief for the year dealt with the idea of archiving the intangible. An everyday object or event was to be observed, analysed and its intangible qualities recorded. I chose a flowering plant. Within the context of our society, the cut flower has become a symbol, a vehicle for expression. It has become an icon, used as a metaphor for life, death and other events. I am trying to look past the references society has placed upon this object.

The reason I chose this flower in particular was because its physical appearance was strange in the sense it is not one typically picked for its beauty. It became easier to look at it objectively. What struck me at the beginning was the strong sense of order and hierarchy that existed. This flower has a very specific structure and form and it is this that I decided to analyse the hierarchy of the make up of the plant in terms of its growth.

From this analysis, I constructed a device, which attempted to show the order that existed in terms of the whole plant, down to the individual flowers. The device describes the order of growth through the use of water and sunlight. It is a synthetic metaphor of my observations of nature, pinpointing the minute spurts of growth that we cannot necessarily see. It has become an archive of an event.

In broader terms, the device describes the continuous cycle of growth and life. There is the idea that the flower itself is also an archive, one of the chemical processes, DNA and time. When we buy a cut flower, we are getting it at the end of its life span. However, for us these last few days of its life presents us with a new existence, a beginning. This is the threshold between life and death. The flower starts its inevitable decay and we are left only with its memory once it has withered completely. Since the device represents the life cycle, I strongly felt it important to speak of death as well. The brief for my scheme evolved into a place of remembrance, drawing on the themes explored in the device.

The building was the final stage of the scheme and in a sense, the culmination of the analysis of my object and the device. The cemetery in itself is a collective archive of those that have passed on. It provides a point of reference for those still alive to return to. As with the flower, the cemetery deals with the cycle of life, memories and is a threshold space where life and death meet.
I wanted to create a space where visitors could come and contemplate, be on their own if they so wished, or with others. It is a cemetery for the ashes and momentos of those that have passed on.

Santiago de Compostela in Spain, is extremely important to those of the Catholic faith. Since the 9th century, pilgrims have arrived on foot, their focus being the cathedral, an archive in a way for the relics of St. James.
There is a very strong spirituality that exists in the town. Therefore, I wanted visitors to make their own pilgrimage to the cemetery, which is a secular one, allowing anyone who wishes, the use of the space. This enables people to come from afar with ashes or momentos, which are portable. I am in essence, borrowing from what already exists in the town translating it to suit my scheme.

The site itself is a strip of land that sits right outside the town centre. It creates a kind of gulf between it and the town due to its positioning the size. From it one can look back at the town of Santiago, with the cathedral in the distance. Due to the actual site, the scheme concentrated heavily on the issues of landscape. I wanted my insertion to be part of the landscape as much possible. I have tried to allow the landscape to shape my scheme and my ideas for the scheme shape the landscape. I have taken reference from what already existed on and around the site, as well as the cultural context the scheme finds itself in. For example, the Spanish have a tradition of burying their dead over ground and this influenced the way in which the urns would be stored.
I make reference to the Cathedral, that can be seen from the site, by facing the secular chapel towards it. The vernacular architecture of the monasteries that surround the site influenced the use of the slate in order to clad the concrete retaining wall that runs the length of the site. Making reference to my device is the element of water that runs through the site as well as the fact the order of the elements in the scheme relate to the order of the elements in the device, which in turn make reference back to hierarchy of the flower.

In conclusion, there are 3 main elements that run throughout the project, from the flower through to the device and finally the building scheme. These are the hierarchy of growth and structure, the idea of singular repeated elements that create a whole and metaphors for life and death.

Kavi Kittani

Poetic, lyrical, sensitive and intelligent are words that sum up Kavi
Kittani's portfolio and design abilities for her thesis project. Her
strategic and searching approach served her well in the early investigative
work. Her personal readings of the everyday object: the Anigozanthos flower,
explores the poetics and ephemeral spatial possibilities and were later
translated into an unorthodox architectonic installation. This installation
draws an acute analysis of the early observations. It initiated her
architectural programme for the building and also the tectonic language.

The architectonic proposal: A Place of Remembrance is a skill and
considered piece of landscape architecture. It provides an optimistic
commentary on life and our culture, while metaphorically celebrating the
notion of life/death through the architectonic choreography between building
and the natural site. The building/landscape proposal exaggerates the
natural and surreal site conditions. Throughout the development of the
project, her architectonic narrative choreographs the spatial and
technologically inventiveness of the proposal. The choice and understanding
of materials and construction methods clearly supports her inventive
architectural ambition.

• Page Hits: 8183         • Entry Date: 08 January 1999         • Last Update: 10 May 2001