Researchers envisage 'future cemetery'

March 3, 2016
'Sylvan Constellation' -- submitted by Columbia University's Graduate School of Architecture, Planning and Preservation. How a future cemetery could look. Credit: Columbia University Death Lab.

How will the dead be disposed of and remembered in years to come?

A recent competition, organised through the University of Bath's Centre for Death & Society, which sought to reimagine a future cemetery drawing on architectural and technological innovations has been won by researchers at Columbia University for a design that could revolutionise future memorialisation.

The proposal, entitled 'Sylvan Constellation' which was submitted by Columbia University's Graduate School of Architecture, Planning and Preservation, envisages a network of memorial vessels which would transform biomass into an elegant and perpetually renewing constellation of light which could illuminate pathways.

The team, based in New York, won a £5,000 prize and a month long summer 2016 residency during which they will research the historic 42-acre Arnos Vale Cemetery in Bristol (UK) and work with the University of Bath's Centre for Death and Society.

The aim is to work towards a feasible design for a future prototype.

Dr John Troyer, Director of Bath's Centre for Death and Society and co-founder of the Future Cemetery explains: "The Sylvan Constellation design by Columbia University's GSAPP DeathLAB and LATENT Productions in New York City is an outstanding mix of both respectful disposition for human remains and longer term thinking around the disposal of digital data.

"The proposal captured the Future Cemetery design competition's larger themes by presenting a mix of different sustainable technologies. It is also a great opportunity for Columbia University's DeathLAB, LATENT Productions in New York City, the University of Bath's Centre for Death and Society and Arnos Vale Cemetery to collaborate.

"By working together on this project, collaborators will establish networks for longer-term projects involving innovative, sustainable design around end-of-life planning. The collaboration will also demonstrate how Arnos Vale Cemetery is a sector leader in creating new possibilities for heritage site cemeteries while continuing to operate as a working cemetery.

"This is an exciting time to be working on design projects that fully embrace topics like death, dying, and dead bodies and I very much look forward to seeing collaborations like this develop."

Karla Rothstein, founder and director of Columbia University's DeathLAB and design director at LATENT Productions will be visiting Bath and Bristol in spring 2016.

She says: "Our team at DeathLAB and LATENT Productions is honoured to have Sylvan Constellation at Arnos Vale selected as the 'first future cemetery.' Our goal is to offer elegant options at death that are commensurate with the social and environmental values we respect while alive. Our proposal aims to secure civic space for the future metropolis, allowing one's last impactful act to gracefully and responsibly celebrate the vitality of life.

"DeathLAB was founded to produce environmentally responsible projects that reweave the ubiquity of death into the fabric of our cities, reminding us of our mortal finitude and the responsibility the living share to fortify our collective future. We appreciate Future Cemetery and Arnos Vale's optimistic support of the cultural shifts that our work embodies."

Mike Coe, Chief Executive of Arnos Vale in Bristol (UK) added: "We are looking forward to hosting Sylvan Constellation at Arnos Vale and welcome the opportunity this provides us. As a recognised centre of future focussed, sustainable cemetery enterprise, I believe the work of Karla and her team fits with our pioneering but respectful objectives and values."?

Explore further: Bear alert: Russians warned off visiting cemetery

Related Stories

Family headstone spared by lava in Hawaii cemetery

November 4, 2014

As a volcano's slow-moving lava approached a cemetery in a rural Hawaii town, Aiko Sato placed flowers at the headstone of the family plot she's tended over the years, thinking it would be the last time she would see it.

Ancient skeletons dug up at Florence's Uffizi

February 12, 2014

Work to expand the Uffizi Gallery's exhibit space has unearthed an ancient cemetery with dozens of skeletons archaeologists say might have been victims of the plague or some other epidemic that swept through Florence during ...

Possible mammoth cemetery found in Serbia

June 29, 2012

Serbian archaeologists have discovered the remains of at least seven mammoths at a dig at an open pit mine, which could turn out to be a mammoth cemetery, lead archaeologist Miomir Korac told AFP Friday.

Recommended for you

Major Viking Age manor discovered at Birka, Sweden

January 19, 2017

During spring of 2016 a number of large presumed house terraces were identified by the authors at Korshamn. As a consequence high resolution geophysical surveys using ground-penetrating radar were carried out in September ...

5 comments

Adjust slider to filter visible comments by rank

Display comments: newest first

katesisco
not rated yet Mar 03, 2016
As we all understand the existing cemeteries will have the headstones and markers removed to allow strolling in a green leafy environment so necessary for health. As in all capitalistic growth patterns the parks allowance is merely given lip service while platting out cheek-by-jowl house plots. We hope to have the green spaces/cemeteries available to more than a few expensive co-ops and high rises that will immediately glom onto the existing structure surrounding the reclaimed area.
This is just more evidence that a capitalistic growth pattern is incompatible with low stress life.
katesisco
not rated yet Mar 03, 2016
As we all understand the existing cemeteries will have the headstones and markers removed to allow strolling in a green leafy environment so necessary for health. As in all capitalistic growth patterns the parks allowance is merely given lip service while platting out cheek-by-jowl house plots. We hope to have the green spaces/cemeteries available to more than a few expensive co-ops and high rises that will immediately glom onto the existing structure surrounding the reclaimed area.
This is just more evidence that a capitalistic growth pattern is incompatible with low stress life.
antialias_physorg
not rated yet Mar 03, 2016
I dunno If I'd want DeathLab on my CV.

As for a need to remind us of our mortality - I think the news do a pretty good job of that.
huckmucus
not rated yet Mar 03, 2016
Soylent Green.
SoylentGrin
not rated yet Mar 03, 2016
Soylent Green.

Yes?

Please sign in to add a comment. Registration is free, and takes less than a minute. Read more

Click here to reset your password.
Sign in to get notified via email when new comments are made.