Grace Mortlock and David Neustein
With Australian cities rapidly running out of burial space, a corporatised and clinical cremation has become the only affordable option; an inactive Facebook account, the default memorial. Why should we care? Most of us are living longer, safer and healthier than ever before, with mortality consigned to an afterthought. And yet, as the events of this summer have shown, death can only be temporarily banished from our minds and physical environments. The mega-fires that claimed 19 million hectares of forest, 1.25 billion animals and at least 34 human lives are a direct consequence of a social order that ignores the preciousness and precariousness of life. From the earliest tombs and barrows to the monumental landscapes of the Victorian era and the industrialised complexes of the early 20th century, death has always been a frontier of human invention. It is once again time for us to radically reinvent death by reconnecting with the planet’s ecological processes. The Studio Death by Design explores architecture’s agency in encouraging holistic forms of social interaction and preparation for death. Studio participants will produce futuristically primitive spaces that reimagine the landscapes and materiality, activities and aesthetics of contemporary burial.