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Necropolis: Elephant and Castle’s Elysian Fields

Part 1 Project 2014
Daniel Havlicek
London South Bank University, UK
"With a kind of easy grace, cemeteries after a certain length of time, allow themselves to be dispossessed. When no more burials take place cemeteries die, but in an elegant manner: lichen, saltpetre, moss cover the flagstones." Jean Genet

Being is the very act of dying one arrives at this paradoxical coexistence of life and death. Being and non-being. Through the juxtaposition of the cemetery this dialectic has the manifest in the heart of most of our traditional cities. Londoners took the Necropolis Railway from Waterloo to Woodbrook in Kent to bury their dead. The return train journey is where a large number of ‘wakes’ took place, starting at the bar in the cemetery station.

The inevitability of death and the inability to predict this unavoidability creates a sense of destiny in presence of place in the centre of a city, a reminder of it’s existence in our everyday life.

The scheme incorporates a coroners court for investigation and answers, a chapel for celebration and remembrance of the deceased, ceremonial hall for the ‘wake’, crematorium, internment in the columbarium of the vertical stone steles, a reference to the new vertical occupation of the city and flower a kiosk. Hopefully restoring one key symbolic element of the traditional city especially one as diverse as London.

The crossing rail tracks on the public domain hint at the unknown and maybe a gentle reminder in life to prepare for that inevitability coming to us all.

Daniel Havlicek

Mr Seamus Ward
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