Death in the Round: A Critique of Funeral Architecture and Burial Practices

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Traditional Cemeteries are known for their groomed, grass lawns with headstones denoting rows of graves. These environments often use vast swaths of land and serve as biological monocultures with one purpose—to hold people who have passed. Spaces like these are only activated when a burial takes place or when friends and family visit the deceased. Because of this, cemeteries are often placed at the edges of society and all but forgotten during everyday life. This distance augments society’s negative association with death.

A cemetery complex will be the focus of this thesis. Consisting of ceremonial halls, mortuary, crematorium, and a refectory for repast, the complex will promote sustainable interment practices, serving as a model for future cemetery sites.

The grounds will offer a variety of landscape typologies that accommodate the needs of natural burial, while providing programming for a waterfront park throughout the year. The location for this thesis will be on the urban edge of Part Covington in Baltimore, remediating a brownfield site and giving it back to the community, instilling values of environmental stewardship.