This Is AuburnElectronic Theses and Dissertations

Deadland: A Cemetery Design in Columbus Georgia




Hines, Maria

Type of Degree



Landscape Architecture


Cemeteries are sacred spaces that have the ability to evoke awareness, fear, awe, reverence, memory and other high emotions that transcend the spatial. When one thinks about a cemetery, it is often a mystifying space embedded with the eternal promise of death, an endpoint of life, “a final resting place”. However, these landscapes exist among the abiding city that is very much alive; creating a tension between recording death, the landscape, and the organisms of the city. Still, these spaces are permanent green spaces within the urban environment- that occupy substantial community space. For this reason, they pose public issues- burial has social, cultural, political, and environmental implications. When ignored, the tension of the cemetery amongst the didactic, evolving, and fluid nature of the city can create a landscape which is static and forgotten. This thesis challenges existing cemetery models wherein the significance of designed elements have been forgotten, rituals rewritten, and a barrier created between Americans and their dead. A hybrid approach is explored, through research by design, to elevate the cemetery to a complexity which is accessible and a part of the urban realm. A series of design explorations is tested at the intersection of three historic cemeteries in a parking lot in Columbus, Georgia. The aim of the thesis is to illustrate that rituals can act as a lens for cemetery design, and still be sensitive to remembrance and the psychological necessity for grief. The thesis seeks to reanimate community rituals into the cemetery, suggesting the cemetery is a landscape as much for the living as it is for the dead.