Re-designing death : an expression of the human bereavement process through crematoria design

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Pham, Harold
Author ORCID Profiles (clickable)
Master of Architecture (Professional)
Unitec Institute of Technology
Chaplin, David
Masters Thesis
Ngā Upoko Tukutuku (Māori subject headings)
cemetery architecture
crematorium architecture
Te Ahua Pa (Mercer Bay, N.Z.)
Mercer Bay (N.Z.)
New Zealand
ANZSRC Field of Research Code (2020)
Pham, H. (2014). Re-designing death : an expression of the human bereavement process through crematoria design. An unpublished research project submitted in partial fulfilment of the requirements for the degree of The Master of Architecture (Prof). Unitec Institute of Technology, Auckland, New Zealand.
This paper presents a novice’s reflections on the aftermath of the death of a close one, discussing the process of grieving and mourning, straddling across analytical philosophical treatments and research. This paper shall indulge the reader in few brief psychological models to illustrate how grief is viewed, and how it affects its sufferers. This will be followed with a survey of precedents relevant to this project and an attempt at an analysis and survey of some current thinking among psychologists and philosophers on the enigma of death, and on the associated praxis of grief and mourning. Finally this proposal will test the research and develop a design for a new crematorium complex. Although cremation did not claim widespread support until the second half of the twentieth century (with currently 70% of deaths cremated in New Zealand); little has been publicized about this architectural form. While this project will address the utilitarian aspects of the crematorium by design, the main challenge is addressing the emotional processing of the bereaved. The funeral process has profound potential to provide an appropriate mood experience to assist in the grief people endure with the loss of another. The design in this research engages with this requirement by using a planning device called an architectural promenade. The site chosen for the crematorium is Te Ahua pa above Mercer Bay on the coastline of the Waitakere Ranges. Mercer Bay is a remote site located between Piha and Karekare. This site is not accessible by vehicle and can only be accessed via hiking through designated tracks. Vehicle access ends on the north at Log Race road and South on Watchman’s road at Karekare where the walking tracks begin
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