GSAPP S'16. RE-COMMISSIONING. ENGAGING TABOOS OF THE TWENTY-FIRST-CENTURY METROPOLIS

We no longer live in an epoch of solidity with a steady belief in the eternal, yet the architectures of our post-mortem circumstances have yet to respond to the fluidity of contemporary life. This second year Master of Architecture design studio examined how we live with death in the city and how progressive architecture may couple with urban infrastructure to radically re-qualify public space.
Challenging lingering preconceptions and persistent taboos, NYC’s decommissioned Central Park Reservoir was augmented and transformed to support social ecologies connected to ubiquitous human mortality.  Projects engaged the secular-sacred nature of this huge urban water body, the taboo of building in Central Park, and the opportunities of reconceiving civic space in the twenty-first-century city. 
Projects addressed human mortality, the logistic limits of earthen burial in dense urban contexts, the negative environmental consequences of traditional forms of burial and cremation, and the evolving priorities and beliefs of 21st century New Yorkers. Alternatives to casketed burial and cremation that more sensibly accelerate biological decomposition enabled innovative models of public space and new modalities of remembrance, while questioning the need for permanent repositories and epitaphs in the urban landscape.
Karla Rothstein, critic. Demitra Konstantinidis, TA.
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