The architectural rendering of life and death

Airports and train stations, hospitals and cemeteries… Places known for their bad lighting and their sad attempt to lighten up the atmosphere with some green elements in order to offer consolation to those left behind. The psychology of saying goodbye is always the same, and so is its architecture.

Due to the tendency to avoid buildings where disease and dying have a home, the aesthetics of death are issues people do not dare to speak of. Thus we find ourselves in hospitals and cemeteries resembling row houses, where homogeneity does suffocate rather than highlight the individuality of human life.

Life vs. Death: A battle of aesthetics

The celebration of being alive is always taking place in a home, where man can find warmth, shelter and peace. Yet these very comforting elements can –and should- be found in cemeteries and hospitals, too.

Juxtaposing the architecture of life to the one of death, it becomes discernable that we are willing to spend 60 to 80 years of joy and vividness in amazing and magnificent buildings, but when it comes to our most vulnerable and fragile moments, all we allow ourselves to rest in is this:

Corridor A. Interior view looking north in hallway. - Madigan Hospital, Corridors & Ramps, Bounded by Wilson & McKinley Avenues & Garfield & Lincoln Streets, Tacoma, Pierce County, WA


As if this would not be enough, take a look at the elegance of this building:

Fuel Station McDonalds Giorgi Khmaladze

Yes, it is truly a fast-food restaurant and a fuel station.

It is time for a paradigm shift

Since the lifespan of mankind has never been as long as at this very moment, isn’t it time to stand up for the right to embrace these years in friendlier and warmer place than in the creepy corridors of a deserted hospital? In fact, there is a better way to die – and architecture can help. 

Perhaps inspired by her name, Alison Killing calls for a paradigm shift in the architectural rendering of dying. In only 4:37 minutes she achieves to narrow down the necessity of a new architecture, open to more fresh air, daylight and most importantly: aesthetics.


bunker arquitectura acapulco
A mausoleum 
by Bunker Arquitectura

dzn_Chapel-of-St.-Lawrence-by-Avanto-Architect-top21 helsinki








Avanto Architects of Helsinki have designed this whitewashed funeral chapel.



These are only two examples of contemporary cemeteries, but history perhaps proves itself as an important inspration:
taj mahal national geographic

The Taj Mahal is a mausoleum of unique architectural genius.

Thus by redesigning homes, hospitals and cemeteries architecture might offer us a new perspective on life, on death and on the very essence of their common beauty.

Photo 1: Alina Nikolaou
Photo 2: Corridor A. Interior view looking north in hallway,Madigan Hospital – Library of Congress Prints and Photographs Division Washington, D.C
Photo 3: Fuel Station+ McDonalds – Giorgi Khmaladze on
Photo 4 and 5: The Dezeen guide to contemporary cemeteries – Dezeen magazine
Photo 6: Taj Mahal –National Geographic


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