Deadland: A Cemetery Design in Columbus Georgia
Type of Degreethesis
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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.