Vertical Burials

Bachelor of Architectural Design
Semester 2, 2020

Studio leader(s)

  • Isabel Lasala


Death, —an inevitable fact of life that will come to us at some point and affect those who remain living— prompts a number of activities related to funeral rites and mourning, as to farewell someone beloved is one the most intense moments that we can experience in our life. So, have you ever thought that death —and especially dead people— also need specific spatial configurations?

Funeral rites, regardless of the religion to which they belong to, require spaces where complex and highly specific activities take place. And these spaces must facilitate pragmatic and efficient occupations in atmospheres where light, shadow, and silence interact with landscapes of timelessness and permanence.

However, cities are growing with a tendency to spread horizontally, moving cemeteries even further to the periphery, and making them less accessible. This situation, sometimes, carries as a consequence the slow abandonment of the dead.

This studio presents the opportunity to reflect upon these circumstances, asking students to address the following design questions:

  1. Can we densify the architecture of the dead?
  2. How can we verticalise a cemetery in the CBD of Melbourne?

While addressing these two questions, students will have the opportunity to explore the possibilities of designing a cemetery within the dense context of the city., which can give us the opportunity to visit our late loved ones in places that are much closer to us.

Therefore, the studio will be focused on the design of the spaces necessary for funeral and burial ceremonies in the vertical condition, and develop hybrid buildings that can integrate architecture and landscape architecture, while challenging the boundaries between interior and exterior space.

The studio will operate in the CBD of Melbourne, a context characterised by high density and vertical architecture (given the special circumstances of this semester, students interested in this studio are encouraged to find information about the site online).

The design process will be undertaken through three main methods that will be complementing each other:

  1. The observation of the site and its surroundings: a method in which students should critically analyse the site in order to approach the main problem.
  2. Case study methodology: where a selection of purposefully and analytically precedents should be chosen in order to establish a ‘state of the art.’
  3. Design exploration, which asks students to, with the information produced with the previous two methodologies, engage with a series of generative techniques to design project-based responses to the studio questions.