A Proper Place of Death?

Research output: Chapter in Book/Report/Conference proceedingPaper in conference proceeding


title = "A Proper Place of Death?",
abstract = "The nineteenth century’s long term planning and successive construction of new burial grounds and new ways of burial, with the help of among others scientific, technical and ideological strategies, have been quite successful in institutionalising a consciousness of what a proper place of death should be like. For the architect Augustus Welby Pugin the promotion of a revival of the Gothic style in ecclesiastical architecture and design was, for instance, not merely a matter of style, but rather of principle. The same can be said of the landscape architect John C. Loudon who in an 1843 treatise, On the Laying Out, Planting, and Management of Cemeteries, remarks that a cemetery, after having provided a decent place of burial, should function so as to improve ‘the moral sentiments and tastes of all classes’, with a focus on ‘neatness, order, and high keeping’. New ways of dealing with the deceased has continuously left traces in the space of death. From the churchyard, as the sacred heart of the city, to park-like burial blocks in extra-urban cemeteries, to the more recent practice of strewing the ashes outside the borders of the cemetery, in an environment that is specific to the deceased. Some researchers even speak of a shift: from an institutional to an individual notion of death. An important issue, which often collides with this individualisation of death, is the continual demand of efficiency and order on cemeteries of today pared with the latest requirement - to express spiritual character without religious codes. Hence the space of death can be said to reveal a tension between private and public as well as between sacred and secular interests. As a further example of this tension we may regard the spontaneous sacralisation and personalisation of public space, at the sites of motor vehicle accidents, murders, terrorist acts or other catastrophes, which expresses a strong need somewhat opposite to the current demand for efficient public environments, free from religious and persona-oriented symbols. It also reflects society’s religious structures and social orderings as well as changes in these matters over time. If we as architects and designers are to constructively support and reflect such tensions, needs, and changes I suggest it is important that we in the twenty-first century start employing an inclusive approach to design strategies. So as to provide more creative ways of defining a place as proper than by excluding that which is improper.",
keywords = "place, profane, cemetery, sacred, proper, private, tactic, memorial, death, public, strategy, space",
author = "Anna Petersson",
note = "The information about affiliations in this record was updated in December 2015. The record was previously connected to the following departments: Theoretical and Applied Aesthetics (011036008)",
year = "2006",
language = "English",
isbn = "978-87-7830-144-4",
pages = "110--117",
editor = "Ken Rivad",
booktitle = "Nordic Association of Architectural Research Annual Symposium 2006",
publisher = "The Royal Danish Academy of Fine Arts, School of Architecture Copenhagen",