The story of birth and demise began to weave when humans started reading the stars and celestial bodies. Socio-cultural phenomena and language paved the path for religion and beliefs. Each religion had a new chronicle associated, that tapped our emotions. Infrastructures and spaces to perform these rituals were built, and held positions of great sanctity and significance in the society. Tombs, Pyramids, temples, all kinds of structures were constructed, and often formed the heart of a city or civilization.
In the age of globalization where culture is getting homogenized, one can imagine a society where religions are not distinct any more. Where the society has moved ahead from rituals and developed new traditions. In such an era, birth and death – constituting the circle of life would also be celebrated in unconventional ways and rituals would be re-written.
As civilizations began to develop, and cultures started diluting, did all the public space re-equipped themselves to the growing changes?
In the coming decades, where our ageing population will complete their life cycle and we will face rising mortality rates – we still do not have enough infrastructure to support this purpose. The pace at which this unspoken need for the deceased is growing – will fall short for the demographic in consideration.
In times of accelerating urbanization and densification, cemeteries face the challenge of keeping up their relevance as a public urban space. This condition is not only an issue of space but also of cultural identity that can be projected within its environment. This population that has been accumulating in the urban realms, is now facing an impending shortage of land. The available land is no more affordable for the masses.
The infrastructure of the coming decades has to be prepared for a sustainable future. With land being a limited resource now, a strategical and sensitive approach to design a resting place is necessary.
How will architecture house this uncharted need of the cities of tomorrow? How can we make a common ground for all faiths/agnostic population to practice their last rites in sustainable ways within our future urban environments?