Architecture and death

I distinguish three main components that define the role of death in our society. On the smallest scale there are the rituals. These are all the habits surrounding death, for example the cake that is always served after the funeral service. Second is the societal change. Changes on a societal level always lead to changes on other levels as well. An example is the emergence of modern medicine, that essentially caused death to become much scarier, as dying meant everything else failed. It also meant that most people no longer died at home, but at a hospital. The final component is that of the spatial consequence: the spatial approach to death. Are the dead buried? Are cemeteries located inside or outside of the city? Where are the funeral homes located? Where do people die, and where do people go if they choose to die?

All these components are connected. Some have a historical connection, whereas others change gradually, like our move into the digital era. Some moments in time cause a direct shift in how we deal with death, think of 9/11.

In order to understand these changes, why they happen, and their relations, I am mapping death in a graph, that shows the relations between moments, between architectural expressions and habits. Visualizing all these connections, allows me to understand the territories in which people deal with death. By understanding the potentials in a territory, and how this particular territory works and influences us, we can manipulate it. As designers we can manipulate the process of choices, and end up designing a territory that alters, differentiates, advances or diminishes its subjects within, or more specifically, these subjects that deal with death.

About CharlotteMiddelveld