Tokyo Design Week happened last week, and I happily went.
In the course of my life, I've found that oftentimes it's from the most foundational, rudimentary questions that we ascertain the most information. So with a mind full of simple questions, I wandered through Tokyo Design Week's exhibitions.
What is design? Why do we pay so little or so much attention to it? How can design improve or worsen our lives? Why are some spaces, products, movements, or ways of being so "design"-attentive while others aren't? What is the function of design? What makes design "good" or "bad" and to whom? Why, in some cases, is there so much universal appeal to a particular design? And in other cases, why is there so much individual particularity to a design that doesn't speak to everyone? What are the social forces that drive forward certain types of design?
In the case of one urban high-rise gravesite, it was pretty clear to see what forces might lead to such an edifice: urban migration, overpopulation, and multiculturalism especially.
Other than the fact that it's a high-rise gravesite, the other thing that makes it special is that the designer specifically noted that it would be a multi-religion site. Standard Christian tombstones sat in one section; Japanese family graves sat in another; and I imagine other religious traditions' grave styles would be accommodated, as well.
One challenge I have for this idea is how it conceptualizes, from both a literal and a metaphorical standpoint, the importance of the deceased's return to Earth. Without going into too many morbid details, how will there be a return to Earth for a coffin and a cadaver 40 floors up? Ok, maybe that's already too morbid.
Perhaps just as importantly, how will both the deceased (pre-death) and his or her family members feel about this kind of floating final resting place? Personally, I feel that when I die, I want to be close to Mother Earth, that is to say, close to the ground. It's what feels most natural to me. Ashes to ashes; dust to dust; to the soil I shall return.
Surely, many others will have more romantic associations with the skies and the heavens above for their 40-foot high resting place.
Whatever the case, this kind of building is actually conceivable, particularly in multicultural cosmopolitan cities with a shortage of space and a plethora or religions.
What do you think of a high-rise graveyard sat in the middle of the city? "Dig"-ging it? Not digging it? Let me know your thoughts.