Alison Killing: There’s a better way to die, and architecture can help
A collection of source documents in the history, theory and criticism of 20th-century architecture. Building a digital library of writings on architecture offers itself also as an opportunity to rethink the architecture of digital library itself and ask how it can open up to new methods of research and discovery. In the experiment, primary function of the library is kept — it firstly exists to serve as a resource for architectural research.
At the Venice Biennale , away from the concentrated activity of the Arsenale and Giardini, was Death in Venice : one of the few independent projects to take root that year. It saw the hospitals, cemeteries, crematoria and hospices of London interactively mapped creating, as Gian Luca Amadei put it, an overview of the capital's "micro-networks of death. In late Killing , a Rotterdam-based British architect, was selected to become a TED Fellow and was given the opportunity to speak about the research behind the project at a conference in Rio de Janeiro. Her five minute talk follows a similar track to the exhibition, tackling the 'architecture of death' - a relatively neglected aspect of the architectural discourse. She asserts how "hospitals, funeral chapels, crematoria and cemeteries once used to set an example that would be followed," and how "these forms [once] would set trends and define values for architecture more widely. Today, this once strong position seems to have faded away completely, despite the fact that the need for design related to death and dying is greater than ever before. With average life spans increasing, and with the rise of degenerative diseases, the period of time in which we deal with end-of-life processes has extended and with it, our exposure to the architecture of hospitals, hospices, care and nursing homes, as well as crematoria and cemeteries.
Through evocative art works, poetry and prose, the exhibition decodes and amplifies actions some which are orchestrated, others inconsiderate. Actions, that slowly tear and restructure the fabric of our cities and the architecture within and along with that impact our sense of being. The exhibition presents evidence that will allow discussions about our present, and yet at the same time is embedded with clues and signs that can help effect meaningful dialogues about the future. In a sense, it consolidates the many critical discussions that forms the dough which leads to design such as those about the demise of our cities as we know them, or the meaning of inspirations from the past, or ideas of beauty, or duplicitous ways of achieving identity, or ways of understanding spatiality. The exhibition is a strong mirror,that will allow cities and design communities to structure conversations that are pertinent to their immediate realm and concerns.