Memento Mori: an architecture of life and death
Urban centres around the world are facing immense pressure for change as the population continues to grow and the problem of finding habitable space is becoming increasingly apparent. Constructed in the corners of the urban fabric, new forms of inhabitation are created in the left-over spaces of the city. In these contested sites, the relationships between form, function and meaning are constantly negotiated and boundaries between informal/formal, private/public, sacred/secular have slowly eroded. How do we begin to negotiate how space is used? Not only between wealthy and impoverished, but also for the living and the dead?
As a home for the city’s dead, Manila North Cemetery is one of the oldest and largest cemeteries in the Philippines. As the final resting place for the dead, it is also a sanctuary for the living. The evolving typology of the urban cemetery offers an opportunity to readdress the relationships between death, life and architecture. This thesis argues for an architecture that mitigates the growing problems of habitation for the living while also being sensitive to the needs of the dead. Memory, death and fiction are used as theoretical drivers for investigating the growing spatial dichotomies between the living and the dead.
The vehicle of exploration for this investigation is incremental social housing and its specific design within Manila North Cemetery. It will explore how traditional notions of home is no longer fixed its original meaning and within these new contested sites - home, death and its associated meanings are recontextualised through processes of rituals, memory and time.