Cemeteries of the Future

Do you want to be buried in a coral reef, a skyscraper or on an artificial island?

(Patrick Ward/Corbis)
smithsonian.com

Most of us don’t like to think about death. But as the global population expands, the question of how to dispose of the deceased becomes more and more pressing. Some 55 million people die every year, and cemeteries are becoming ever more crowded. A growing number of designers and urban planners are tackling this issue with innovative concepts for cemeteries of the future. 

Where the dead light the night

A recent contest, held by the Centre for Death and Society at the University of Bath in England, asked designers to envision what a cemetery of the future might look like. Columbia University designers submitted the winning entry. Called “Sylvan Constellation,” the design uses biomass (in this case, the gas from decaying human bodies) to illuminate lanterns, casting a shifting matrix of light beams throughout the cemetery. The team will now explore installing the project at Britain’s historic Arnos Vale Cemetery. 

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