NEW YORK MARBLE CEMETERY
A quote from Vitruvius in The origin of dwelling house says: “As they kept coming together in greater numbers into one place, finding themselves naturally gifted beyond the other animals is not being obliged to walk with faces to the ground, but upright and gazing upon the splendor of the starry firmament, and also in being able to do with ease whatever they chose with their hands and fingers.”
This observation of firmament rise architecture, made us human. That’s why we have those fascination of babel, castle in the sky. That’s why we challenging the height of the building. Through our history we are fascinated with height. Especially when we dealing with death.
From pyramid to tall obelisk, which is a symbol of sun god, to cypress tree as a symbol connect beneath to sky. even the celestial burial in Tibet, which is letting eagle eat the dead body in a way connect the dead to the infinite firmament. We can see this fascination of upward direction, towards the vastness. To me, that’s why people believe there is heaven.
The site is called marble cemetery located in the middle of a block at lower east side, New York. It consists 156 vault buried underground. One thing that’s interested me is there is barely no any upward direction elements. I would like to create something that formed this vertical direction and connection to nature for both the previous cemetery and the new.
Being in big city, rising concrete jungles with taller and taller buildings. There should be also tower not for the living. Just the same as the rest of the surrounding, this overpopulated, dense city. The death lab lecture make me think how do we deal with cemetery in the future. The future technology of transferring Biomass of the dead into light energy source fascinates me. It changed the concept of cemetery from something eternal to temporal. More importantly, it relate to us and city in a way that formed us. Light is as powerful to form everything, it formed the building, the city in the dark, we see because there is shadow casted. and at the same time as vulnerable to be gone within a blink. The leaving of light to vastness is the crescendo of the journey. Combining observations and research, I’m proposing a tower cemetery with the technology of transferring biomass into light.
The site is occupied with water, visually the tower sit weightless on water.The reflection connect the tower and the existed marble wall and blur the above and beneath. As the tower goes higher, it goes deeper beneath. The existed marble wall with people's name will reflected in the water, to where they are buried.All the pathway and platforms are associated with the pathway and arrangement of the cemetery underneath.
The tower consist the shape of vault and semi transparent marble is a continuity of the existing marble cemetery. There is no envelope of the building. People visiting the tower experience the same weather condition as exterior. The only interior is the core layer that transferring biomass into light, which is for the non living. The semi transparent marble door on four sides receive light and glow with the inner layer as a secondary light source, as a symbol of circulation for the non living. I try to create circulation of both living and the dead in the project. Controlling the distance and the landing height to create the non accessible pathway. As awareness of existence of the nonliving in the experience.
The relationship of the structure and materials created complex shadow which made the facade. So the tower is like a glowing device, just like any light tower in New York city. As everything we see is light, then light is no longer a symbol or transition, but the actual being him or herself. Same as reflection it created and shadows it casted.