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The Burial of the Dead

Part 1 Project 2011
Jennifer Dyne
University of Bath, UK
Through nature alone, Death has been reconnected with society and the city. The living walk amongst the dead in the paradisal landscape of the Burial Field, where a wild meadow grows, bodies are ‘planted’, memories are collected, and the stelae which mark the graves glisten in the sunlight.

T.S.Eliot’s The Waste Land conveys a post-apocalyptic society where the perils of immortality are expressed in the fragmented conversations of its inhabitants. This visionary poem inspired the project - through the narrator’s empirical memories which emanate a Life without Death, and the epigraph which describes the immortal Sibyl - each line convinces you of Death’s prestige.

The architecture captures the enormity of Death, enveloped in a veil of shadows which unite the fragmented building and provide the bare faces of concrete with texture, depth and detail, it evokes a three dimensional memento mori. The building is not to frighten, but to become the Sublime, whilst allowing the mourner to extend their journey, and in essence the finality of the ‘good-bye’.

Emerging from the landscape are three elements which mark the pivotal movements within the funeral. The Bell Tower, the point of arrival, where above the cloak of the trees birds fly freely and the wind whispers through the tubular bells. The Funeral Chapel, lined in charred timber projects all thoughts to that of the body and the city, which sits behind. The Committal Chapel is of the earth, it speaks of finality but also of the future as it overlooks the Burial Field. The meadowed landscape forms a field of souls as the dead are planted to turn to compost within twelve months (a process known as Promession, where one is frozen to an organic powder). Each person is marked by a point, the stela, a box, holding their possessions, and a field, where their soul grows.

An architecture which expresses grief, but also one which provides solace, and more importantly it returns death to its rightful place within society - for death does not overlook the city, but it is part of it.

Jennifer Dyne

Mr Martin Gledhill
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