Building from the Posthumous Body

 

Upon death the human body meets the same fate as trash—either finding residence within a landfill in the form of the cemetery, or passing through an incinerator during the process of cremation. While largely unpopular, the process of natural burial allows the organic body to return its nutrients to the earth in a matter of months; interestingly though, the bones of the body will remain long after.

 

Similarly, while the organic body during cremation completely vaporizes, bone ash is all that remains. Composed of calcium carbonate and phosphate pentoxide, in a sense bone can understood as an inorganic architectonic material that grows inside of us; it is perhaps not a coincidence that of past civilizations we have left only their buildings and their bones. Serving as the structural system of support for the body when it was alive, manufacturing human bones into load-bearing architectural elements emerges merely from a glint of common sense: it is little known that fine bone china is in fact composed of 50% animal bone ash. Paradoxically, by building death into our lives, architectures might redefine how life, death and waste is conceived of in the Anthropocene.

Cyclo: Architectures from Waste taught by Professor Caroline O'Donnell and TA Dillon Pranger 

Sited in Kyoto, Japan

Arch Out Loud Vertical Cemetery Competition

Cornell University, Ithaca, New York

December 2017

Life After Waste