Student: Leina Godin
Advisor: Fabrizio Gallanti
Studio: Design Studio Option (DST)
Year/Term: Fall 2016
This project poses an architectural alternative on how we process death, overcoming the sense of powerlessness by re-defining the funerary procession in the densely-populated city of Tokyo. Contemporary Japanese rituals of death are undergoing changes as the population faces a persistently low birth rate with a rapidly ageing population. The atmosphere of Japanese funerals seems to be changing as well, where the mourners feel less bound by old conventions. Thus, the cultural shift in Japanese traditions pushes the funeral industry to reassess the notion of funerals with trade fairs for them to become more common and present.
How does architecture play a role in the ever-changing funerary procession? Can architecture be the catalyst in transforming the modern funeral and what could then be the new relationship between death and the city? Indeed, death in the contemporary city is at a critical point where a new solution is mandatory. This set of questions led to a vertical urban solution, housing all funerary acts from the moment of demise to burial, where the emphasis is on functionality while balancing artistic and architectural freedom that the cemeteries should offer to the public. The project creates new pathways and a new machine for a more fluid, concise and personal experience of death, a muted moment away from the city noise.
The project addresses the pressing demographic issues of Japan, while setting a precedent for what many developed countries may encounter in the future. The architectural solution is an efficient, sensible and silent design amidst the density, chaos and noise of Tokyo.