Critique at University of Virginia
Critique at University of Virginia

Death Ritual Reinvigoration

This project was developed by Yew Yong Swee as a student from National University of Singapore and was submited to the WAS awards 2017 under the Facilities category.

Death ritual re-invigoration:

Land is one of many precious resources gifted from Mother Earth. In Singapore, it is the most limited resource. This leads to an issue regarding the decency of settling the dead because land is primarily reserved for housing and transportation to serve the ever-growing population. In such conditions, traditional archetypes of rituals must be redefined as a new columbarium typology.

The proposed project site has a close proximity to housing developments, yet it is not too accessible. Thus, it allows for the community to determine their own level of physical contact with a space for the dead. Ultimately, an urban leftover space in between the Clementi housing estates and the Ayer-Rajah Expressway is selected for a re-imagination of a columbarium for the local Chinese Taoist demographic.

Architecturally, the building is derived from traditional Chinese tomb sweeping rituals and the analysis of local context. The design revives the ritualistic experience of tomb sweeping, something that was lost during the typological transformation from tomb to niche. Yet, due to the project geographically location, it does not compromise on the dead space that needs to be invisible from above ground. On the contrary, the columbarium tower can be as tall as it is seen from afar as the physical contact is limited.