Rites of remembrance : an architectural research project exploring the funerary requirements of modern day secular New Zealand society

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Liew, Nicola
Author ORCID Profiles (clickable)
Master of Architecture (Professional)
Unitec Institute of Technology
Budgett, Jeanette
van Raat, Tony
Masters Thesis
Ngā Upoko Tukutuku (Māori subject headings)
Waipapa Valley (Parnell, Auckland, N.Z.)
Parnell (Auckland, N.Z.)
cemetery architecture
crematorium architecture
Purewa Cemetery and Crematorium
Auckland (N.Z.)
New Zealand
ANZSRC Field of Research Code (2020)
Liew, N. (2014). Rites of remembrance. Master Thesis explanatory document. An architectural research project exploring the funerary requirements of modern day secular New Zealand society. An unpublished research project submitted in partial fufilment of the requirements for the degree of Master of Architecture Professional, Unitec Institute of Technology.
Technological advancements have increasingly led to the alienation of human emotion from physical experience. A prime example of such can be demonstrated upon analysis of the business of death and dying, an experience which evokes raw emotion in its most extreme form, thus providing the perfect platform for highlighting the effects of the gradual institutionalisation of what were once beautiful forms of mourning and ceremonies surrounding death. Land shortage and the resulting increase in land value has pushed cemeteries in Auckland out of the city, meaning they no longer have a place in the urban context. Cemeteries thus are losing their integrity and becoming vast green spaces representing everything but the reality of death. The growing land shortage in big cities around the world together with the rise of secularism particularly in New Zealand has resulted in the increasing popularity of cremation over burial. As such, the crematory process has evolved accordingly and technological advancements have brought with them such issues as the loss of ritual in the funerary process as well as the lack of finality associated with cremation ceremonies. Through historical and theory research, analysis and application of precedent studies and analytical drawing, this project aims to bring people closer to the acknowledgment of death and to provide a healing environment for people of all cultural diversities with the process of grief. The research proposes a crematorium together with chapels, communal spaces and other ancillary facilities located in the Waipapa Valley of Parnell, re-engaging the urban environment and those city-dwellers with the transition from life to death. The diverse nature of New Zealand’s population meant it was paramount that this project provided for a number of facilities and spaces that would appeal to a multitude of diversities. Accordingly, establishing common threads of importance to the bereaved and analysis of the funerary process across a diverse range of cultures and religions have influenced and thus been incorporated into the design. This project delves into the notion of silence, with death being the most extreme form of silence and the journey towards the concept of eternal silence within being an important attainment in the grieving process for the bereaved. Exploration into healing silence transcends the idea of the passage between earth and sky, the momentary and the eternal and form links to the design of the site and crematorium in the Waipapa Valley. Throughout the design process, various issues and problems of the site and concepts are addressed and further concepts developed accordingly. It is noted that the final outcomes of this design process are indicative in nature only of the final design, with scope for further architectural development in the final design. Purewa Cemetery and Crematorium used to analyse the funerary process. Project site: 23 Cheshire Street, Waipapa Valley, Parnell.
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