Throughout history, we’ve seen different spaces and buildings designed to allocate the remains of people who passed away. From Egyptians, who designed pyramids to remember and honor the pharaohs and their queens, to the ancient city of Çatalhöyük (Turkey) where people used to bury their beloved under their houses (Check our post about ways of burying in the past).
In the Western world, cemeteries appeared to replace the old graveyards solving some of the problems that came with the industrial revolution and the rapid growth of population. In the early stages of the 19th-century new places of burial were established away from heavily populated areas owned by municipalities and independent from the churches and their churchyards.
So the goal of keeping the population safe from epidemics and other health issues was achieved. But since then a lot has happened, and seems that now new problems are on the rise.
“Too poor to live, to poor to die”
“Too poor to live, to poor to die” is how one newspaper in the northeastern city Harbin headlined a report complaining that cemetery plots were now costing more per square meter than luxury apartments.
As The Telegraph reports, for Chinese people this is the way to show respect for their parents, so they are open to pay what’s necessary to have a space for they loved ones. Of course, that huge cost cause resentment among the Chinese making the funeral industry enter into the top ten of “colossal profit business” since 2003.
In September of 2013 BBC posted an article with the alarming headline: ‘Burial space in England could run out in 20 years’ and some projects and public debate appeared in certain groups of our society.
But the only real data that lets us think there’s a market trend to face the upcoming crisis with cemeteries is the increase of methods accelerating the decomposition of human remains. As Time Magazine states, ours is a mobile society that finds methods like cremation or green cremation an eco-friendly, economic and sustainable solution.
So maybe we should think about creating “new cemeteries” in a different way than what we have been doing until now. Maybe we should understand and explore the possibilities to merge technologic improvements like green cremation with new spaces focused on the creation of life, rather than the ‘storage of death’.
What do you think of curent cemeteries? We would love to hear from you in the Comments section below!
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