Author Archives: Manon Mollard

Will never export for AI to Rhino ever again

Working on death strips connecting horizontal rows of London neighbourhoods

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Views in progress

Understanding relations between “cemetery”, “dead city” and “live city”
In #2, attempting to draw as if standing up there and looking down.. scale and height of horizon line to be sorted..

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On my way to.. edgy

Edgywhich tends to challenge societal norms and reveal the dark side. Cutting edge.

So, 2 kinds of views

Type.1: From city of dead above, with ‘alive’ London behind (more zoomed in) – tests above
Type.2: Also from city of dead above, but both ‘alive’ and ‘dead’ London visible (more zoomed out I guess)

For you to imagine a bit..
Advice? Thoughts on composition tests?

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When concrete kills it

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Post Previews

Ts was painful and it’s ooover

New and updated work for now
Thoughts.. coming soon..!

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Missing a temporary folder.

It’s not Merve, it’s the blog!

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Intro plates


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Bratislav Stonjanovic finds shelter in tomb among the dead

Huffington Post article here

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Mini views

Excited about Photoshop!!

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before joint tut

as promised yesterday, here is the iso – needless to say it is WIP..


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here figuring the plan out..
iso is on its way too! will post it tomorrow..
Whiteread’s studio is the pink building, the dark grey area would be the drawing (to be fitted on my 84×84 plate, thinking of putting other levels of plans on the last third of the page – to further demonstrate weaving of living and dead) The 3d will not be detailed, it just enables me to sort of understand the different heights and at what point i am cutting the plans, if this makes sense.
Also will not keep straight squares in this plan, or at least will try to draw in such a way that it breaks them as much as possible… – I know the printscreens dont show much yet, but I feel I figure quite a bit out.. will see if I manage to draw it out!

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WIP & jumble of thoughts

Working on main drawing of plate 4, initial collage idea was
But getting bored of all these lines so switching to little perspectives for now (part of plate 6, the one where we ‘go inside,’ showing experience and ‘life’ of concrete city of the dead with perspective, details, events.. quick reminder here)
And a miracle happened today, I finally went to the Death exhibition at the Wellcome Collection! – it finishes on Saturday..!- I want to put skeletons in my drawings now.
& some random thoughts..

* role of fire, with rise of cremation. transformation of body to its constituent substances would require a new set of rituals and ceremonial spaces
+ trend of tree and water burials?

* currently project is focusing on typology for the dead, maybe should also include typology for the dying? particularly relevant with current wish to live as long as one can
‘threshold’ between city of living and city of dead. home funerals, etc

* shifting characteristics of cemetery
walled isolation vs open access
place to avoid vs relax
place of social engagement vs contemplation
monument vs public park
ceremonial vs everyday
private vs communal
re-situate projects, or moments of it, to clarify what the proposal is doing

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Row of houses for plate drawing and travel penalty on their way..

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The one where the strip becomes 3d

Sketched volumes and moments being built in Rhino, fun times!
Following advice from Friday tutorial…
sticking to the big stupid rectangle (well for now.. in Rhino anyway..) sketches are trying to test that, see how it could be.. and that’s because another advice was to apply modelled chunk directly to plate (sketch below)

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Trying to figure volumes out

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very WIP, (conceptual) thinking and brainstorming in plan

identifying different moments of the city of the dead, introducing more spaces – eg. ceremonial spaces, coffin making workshops, green areas, memorial spaces, perforations, etc – and diversifying above ground burial spaces by creating different densities and atmospheres..
to become clearer and be placed above existing London map soon – differences of densities between city of the living and the city of the dead appears, similarly to the effect created by the illegal rooftop housing in HK!
(right now each square 30m x 30m)

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Shift in Scale – Concrete Snake

importance of scales in project concrete monster that deals with very intimate moments: scale of the megastructure vs scale of the human body/corpse
huge contradiction, just like Whiteread’s House was one big paradox (private/public, intimate/monumental, open/closed, inside/out, presence/absence, life/death, …)

‘thick concrete slabs’ with bodies/urns placed everywhere inside them

concrete ‘islands’…

… defined by existing fabric……. and connected

project focus not about ‘rooftop city of the dead’ in itself but about relation with existing, the extent to which they are weaved one into the other. moments of interactions, overlaps, disconnections, effect on one another, potential evolution..
.:. will need to zoom in into points of access, how visible/hidden is one of the cities when in the other, perforations above-below to orchestrate views, light entry, etc

for now next step is to do small axos (or plans) to figure out relation of carcass (city of the living) with what sits on top, the qualities of that space (intermediary scale, between megastructure and body)

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Rhino World, 3D City of the Dead rising

Extension of structural system of existing buildings to hold the city of the dead
Developing this world above:
–  how does the existing building under relate to the above (use, type, height, social class)
– different atmospheres and densities created above (open spaces, crammed compartments, ‘mass production’ burial, intimacy, etc)
–  perforations above-below to orchestrate views, light entry
– detail of joint where the concrete column meets the steel structure

– extra ‘legs’ needed – where, how?
– Brutalism as inspiration?

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Skyscrapers of the Dead

Article by Colin Dickey on Lapham’s Quarterly

Memorial Necrópole Ecumênica in Santos, Brazil [1983] – world’s tallest cemetery!
Its concentration of real estate allows it to occupy a location close to living, and this together with its iconic form and current status as a tourist destination allow it to go some way in fulfilling its objective of demystifying the cemetery.

Cemetery Sao Jose in Porto Alegre, Brazil
Brazil built its first crematorium in 1983 in Sao Paulo at around the same time as the San Jose Cemetery would have been built. It seems as though Brazil was attempting to solve the overcrowding of its cemeteries architecturally rather than relying on the technological (and highly un-ecological) solution of cremation.

Moshka Tower, Mumbai, India
The tower seeks to meet the needs of the entire burial process for several cultures within the city and create a temporary place of repose in the sky. For Muslims, it provides areas for funerals and space for garden burial; for Christians, areas for funerals and burial; for Hindus, facilities for cremation and a river to deposit a portion; for Parsis, a tower of silence is located on the roof of the tower.

Metropolitan Sepulcher, by Thomas Wilson [1820]
“This grand mausoleum will go far towards completing the glory of London. It will rise in majesty over its splendid fanes and lofty towers—teaching the living to die, and the dying to live for ever.”

The Last House, by Chanjoong Kim
Bringing the vertical cemetery into line with more contemporary architectural styles and approaches and drawing on a zoomorphic language that echoed systems of vascular circulation, the Last House sparked debate concerning changes in funeral rituals related to the social changes that have taken place.

Architecture appears swift to take the opportunity to address a new area where death creates a market, on the borderline between consumerism and entertainment.

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Concrete + Wall Vaults + Bridge Beams on Site & Storyboard

Entering the 3D world of Rhino, aiming to create a new ground, a concrete landscape (rather than an accumulation of individual objects like i had in the first drawing here) above London. The wall vault enables me to ‘bury’ people above ground, without soil, as well as to play with the horizontal continuity and spreading of my city of the dead. Keeping accesses to the street and ability to grow vertically thanks to the use of a bridge beam like structure (NOT ‘scaffolding’!).

Visual storyboard, following on from previous post
1. starting point, current situation: plan of existing cemeteries
2. [zooming in & entering] texture/atmosphere existing cemeteries, current experience of death in London, journey from house to cemetery, way it looks, etc
3. [scale of tomb, sarcophagus, mausoleum] from Whiteread process, casting, to me, via casting & from interior of House to exterior of concrete city
4. [same scale, spreading it, ‘mass production’] making of concrete city of the dead – scale of casket5.  [zooming out] making of concrete city of the dead – scale of city, including new google earth view. in the middle, perspective of the ‘in-between’6. [getting inside] experience and ‘life’ of concrete city of the dead with perspective, details, events

for now it stops here, the rest (7., and more..) will come later
Back to Rhino..

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Site plan and list of (yes, big!) drawings

Chunk of London, starting point of the concrete city of the dead in the project: Whiteread’s Studio, on Bethnal Green Road.

List of big drawings, in sequence:
1. starting point, current situation: plan of existing cemeteries
2. [zooming in] texture/atmosphere existing cemeteries
3. [scale of tomb, sarcophagus, mausoleum] Whiteread process, casting
4. [same scale, spreading it, ‘mass production’] making of concrete city of the dead – scale of casket
5.  [zooming out] making of concrete city of the dead – scale of city, including new google earth view
6. [getting inside] experience and ‘life’ of concrete city of the dead with perspective, details, events
7. [zooming out, moving forward in time] relationship, interaction, overlap, separation, similarities & differences between city of living and city of the dead

Developing them both in 2d and 3d, for now focusing on this concrete city of the dead in the few blocks just around Whiteread’s studio.

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Whiteread’s studio on Bethnal Green Road and Geosynthetics

Whiteread chose to buy and convert a deconsecrated synagogue at the same time as she was surrounded by controversy over the creation of the Judenplatz Holocaust memorial in Vienna.
The extended and remodelled building provided Whiteread, her partner Marcus Taylor and their growing family, with an apartment, library and roof terrace at roof level.  The main body of the building accommodates workshops, studios, storage and an archive for the artists’ work.

Looking for a something -a skin, a shell- that I can use as a separator between the building and the city of the Dead above, especially now that I am bringing soil..


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Home Funerals & DIY Burials..

As info (and according to the Guardian in 2009): “The average cost of dying has soared to £7,098 this year and is expected to rise by another third over the next five years.
Average cost of cremation = £2,448
Average cost of burial = £3.018, and £4.600 in London
According to the same article, ‘green’ funerals ‘now’ account for 7% of all ceremonies.

Steps of the process:

– Washing and dressing the body
– Preparing the body for a stay at home
– Creating a peaceful atmosphere for visitors
– Making necessary arrangements for transport and burial or cremation
– Completing necessary paperwork such as the death certificate and other documents

It’s completely legal to bury someone in your garden:

Wealthy families with large estates have, for centuries, built a mausoleum or burial chambers and vaults on their land, for the burial of a family member. The right to a private burial place has persisted from the days when Quakers often used to bury their relatives in the garden. More recently, particularly with the media coverage, families are keen to have “green” or alternative burials, and the number of burials which have taken place on private land (i.e. farmland or within gardens) has significantly increased.
There is nothing in the public general law, which prevents the burial of a deceased person in ground other than a cemetery. The only exception to this is where the burial on private ground would constitute a public health risk.

– British cemetery law changed after 1665 and is looser now: “No coffin shall be buried in any grave without less than 30 inches (76.2 cm) of soil between the surface of the ground and the upper side of the coffin” section 103 Burial Act 1847 chapter 34
although other sources claim there needs to be 1m of soil above and below the body after burial, others that there should be 3 feet (91.4 cm) between the body and the surface. the ‘6 feet under’ distance used to be true and is actually still the case in cemeteries as other bodies will be placed on top of it afterwards..
– minimum distance to highways, spring/running/standing water, field drain, etc, to be respected

What you’d need:
– shovel to dig hole (3h of work for 3 to 4 feet deep, & shore up first 2 feet for supporting mourners..)
– body can be dressed or naked, wound up in sheet or put in body bad and/or in coffin
– 2 long ropes to lower body into hole
– registration paper: name, adress, date of birth, age, date and place of burial, name of ‘minister’ + drawing with exact location of grave (in case you then sell the land, for instance..)

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WIP, trying to push both the argument drawings and the project proposal, arghh!

splitting the infamous map into 2 drawings
one more pixel based to show that death is pushed out of central London: aerials views of cemeteries all at same scale
one more vector based to show the content of these cemeteries, what they are made of

and trying to work on the 3d as well, particularly the structure so that the city of the dead isn’t floating anymore..

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& working on argument-intro drawing

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Working on statement

A reluctance to face death

London is one giant grave. Our current homes and workplaces sit on layers and layers of bones belonging to previous generations of Londoners. Between Knightsbridge and South Kensington stations, the Piccadilly line tunnel curves because it was impossible to drill through the mass of skeletal remains buried in Hyde Park. What we have really done is to carve out a place for ourselves among the dead; the glittering pinnacles of commerce rise along the skyline, their foundations sunk in a charnel house; and the lost lie forgotten below us as, overhead, we persuade ourselves that we are immortal and carry on the business of life.

The topic has been eradicated from all spaces of modern life. What we find so difficult to face is that death establishes itself in duration, it lasts an infinite amount of time. Although it is impossible to rely on medicine to cure us of everything and anything, facing death almost goes against the profession’s function, hence explaining why the medical field itself cannot develop a way of relating to it. To everyone, including those who fight it, death has become an obscenity. The dialogue with it has fallen silent, particularly now that cremation is becoming increasingly popular. Indeed, it is a process that denies a full architectural response to the mystery and solemnity of death.

The way weaving see and relate to death has been translated quite literally into the space of the cemetery over history. Up until the 18th century, when people believed in the existence of a soul and in the process of reincarnation, it was not as crucial to give the body a comfortable resting place. However, as a deep and sentimental concern for the corpse was born, everyone then gained the right to their own little box for their own little personal decay.  Hygiene preoccupations and issues of overcrowding further contributed to pushing the spaces for the dead towards the outskirts, and the cemetery went from being the sacred immortal heart of the city to being the ‘other city,’ where each family member possesses its dark resting place.

A city of the Dead on London’s rooftops

A parallel city emerges on top of the existing London. A negative world, a space for the dead, starts to grow on the rooftops. Londoners install their families to rest above their heads; the profiles of tombstones and mausoleums gradually shape a new skyline for the city. The inhabitants can easily pay a visit to their deceased grandparents and water the flowers planted for them, making the leap from life to death less abrupt. The cemetery located on a ring-road or by-pass and accessible only by car is replaced by little gardens of peace above every house in the very centre of the city. Rather than keeping the cemetery enclosed by gates and/or trees, hence clearly distinguishing between its inside and the rest of the urban fabric, the relationship between the two worlds becomes more complex.

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And bedtime for now

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References & post-tutorial thoughts

City of the Dead above the City of the Living

“An architect does not ‘create’ a city, only an accumulation of objects. It is the inhabitant who ‘invents’ the city: an uninhabited city, even if new, is only a ‘ruin’.”
– Yona Friedman

Spatial City: housing plan to create structure above an existing city. Framework erected first, residences inserted into the voids of the structure; each level to occupy no more than 50% of overall structure in order to provode air and light to each residence as well as city below.

Bringing the Green of the Cemetery back into the Centre

A park above the city? Well, the Highline, of course..
Cemeteries are green spaces, but too far out, not used as much as they could be. Too many rules of behaviour apply.

Need to determine the relationship between the two worlds, the points of access, of connection between the lower and upper level as well as the moments of disconnection. Physical separation but spatial relation.

About the Highline: “The park accommodates the wild, the cultivated, the intimate and the social. Access points are durational experiences designed to prolong the transition from the frenetic pace of city streets to the slow otherworldly landscape above.”

So this,
and that,
and Le Fresnoy [previous post], with Tschumi’s ‘in-between’, his “innovative concept about the spaces generated by collisions between forms, programs, and the varied systems of contemporary culture.”

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WIP – Sections

Cemetery displaced from the outskirts to the centre of London

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Le Fresnoy, by B. Tschumi

Tschumi chose to leave the existing structures intact, protecting them with an enormous steel roof canopy : the superimposition of spaces and functions forms an architectural collage. The “in between” or residual spaces located between the existing tiled roofs and the new, hovering steel structure punctuated by glass “clouds” becomes a place where artists can take cover.

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Montmartre Cemetery: on 2 different levels

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So I’m not the only one who didn’t immediately understand the complexity of the making process behind Whiteread’s House..


“The children, like many more sophisticated tourists, favoured a fairy tale solution to the mechanics of construction: liquid concrete poured down the chimney.”

Iain Sinclair, Lights Out For The Territory, 238

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The Cuban National Art Schools on the news

Article from the Observer: Can Foster and Acosta rescue Cuba’s lost temple to ballet?


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Parallel cemeteries/landfills..


06 November 2007
Burial Land Shortage
“Although over 70% of Londoners are cremated, roughly 10,000 people a year are still buried in the capital. And there’s no getting away from it – London is running out of burial space fast. [..] The capital needs about five acres of graveyard space a year just to meet the current demand. […] Half of its 130 local authority cemeteries have no spare land available at all, while space in the other half will run out in 12 years. […] Predictably, it’s the Inner London boroughs that have the least amount of free burial space.”
“Faced with no other options there’s not a lot else they can do, and I think a lot of them don’t go and visit their loved ones as much as they want to”.
“It is far preferable for councils to reuse existing burial sites rather than creating new cemeteries. The reclamation of graves is a practice that has been going on since 1976, when councils were granted the power to add bodies to existing graves that had room, as long as the bodies already there were not disturbed. ‘People have suggested compulsory cremation, burying people standing up, and so on and so on. Reuse is the only viable alternative’ says Ian Hussein, Director of the City of London Cemetery and Crematorium. Since September 2007, councils have powers under the London Local Authorities Act 2007 to disturb graves older than 75 years, with the consent of any relatives. This means that remains can be buried deeper down in the same grave, creating new space for bodies to be buried on top.”
” Talk of ‘waking the dead’ provokes strong emotional responses in people. But with the chronic lack of burial space in the capital, it will only be a matter of time before Londoners might have to adjust their attitudes to grave recycling, and the whole notion of a ‘final’ resting place.”

Not that this will give me major clues on how to deal with death in the city, but did you know that you are expected to live to 96 if you are born near Oxford Circus, and only 85 if near Tottenham Court Road? Life Expectancy on a Tube Map

(historical & active)

08 July 2010
UK warned it will run out of landfill sites in eight years
The Independent
“57 million tonnes of rubbish, including industrial waste, are being disposed in landfill sites each year. With 650 million cubic metres of capacity left in the ground – three times the volume of Lake Windermere – the UK will reach its limit by 2018.”
“Allowances are tradable, so that authorities can buy more if they expect to exceed their quota and those with low landfill rates can sell their surplus allowances.”

Last bonus, a BBC Video on What happens to the rubbish we produce

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London’s biggest and London’s weirdest

On the left hand side, Brookwood cemetery, also known as the London metropolis, largest cemetery in the UK.
On the right hand side, St Pancras Churchyard.
[both at the same scale]

And, surprise surprise, this is what St Pancras churchyard looks like..!


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To make the leap from life to death less abrupt, the inhabitants have constructed an identical copy of their city.

[…] They say that every time they go below, they find something in the lower Eusapia; the dead make innovations in their city; not many, but surely the fruit of sober reflection, nor passing whims. From one year to the next, they say, the Eusapia of the dead becomes unrecognizable. And the living, to keep up with them, also want to do everything that the hooded brothers tell them about the novelties of the dead. So the Eusapia of the living has taken to copying its underground copy.

They say that this has not just now begun to happen: actually it was the dead who built up the upper Eusapia, in the image of their city. They say that in the twin cities there is no longer any way of knowing who is alive and who is dead.”

Italo Calvino’s Invisible City Eusapia

“Every city has […] another city whose inhabitants are called by the same same: it is the Laudomia of the dead, the cemeter” […]

The more the Laudomia of the living becomes crowded and expanded, the more the expanse of tombs increase beyond its walls. […] In both, families are more and more crowded together, in compartment crammed one above the other.

On fine afternoons the living population pays a visit to the dead and they decipher their own names on the stone slabs: like the city of the living, thos other city communicated a history of toil, anger, illusion, emotion; only here all has become necessary, divorced from chance, categorized, set in order.

And to feel sure of itself, the living Laudomia has to seek in the Laudomia of the dead the explanation of itself, even at the risk of finding more there, or less; explanations for more than one Laudomia, for different cities that could have been and were not, or reasons that are incomplete, contradictory, disappointing.”

Italo Calvino’s Invisible City Laudomia

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Working on the Thesis

The disassociation of death from the heart of the urban fabric has led to a destruction of a layer of history and consciousness, as if we were reluctant to address death as the inevitable consequence of life. Because death seems to have no place in the modern city, this projects aims to question the possible relationship there can be between the houses of the living and the houses of the dead. How can there be a deliberate presence of death in today’s urban setting?

House vs Tombstone

The primary purpose of a house is to give shelter. The primary function of a tomb is to demonstrate the continuing existence of the dead in the minds of the living. The architecture of death, just like the process of casting, are negative worlds. House is out of place because it does not establish a direct dialogue with its immediate surroundings. It is strongly connected to it however: it is the negative, the opposite.

Death pushed out of the city

In our cities, we have specific places allocated to death, clearly marked areas reserved to burials. The churchyard used to be at the heart of the settlement, now corpses are buried far away from the city centre, the cemetery is usually on a ring-road or by-pass, accessible only by car. Death has been torn out of the city and a significant part of the city has died as a result.

“I find the piece interesting, but it’s in the wrong place”

Those were the words of theater producer Robert Warner about Rachel Whiteread’s cast of the interior of a Victorian house, House. This kind of structure is usually found in cemeteries, and therefore yes, on could argue it is very much in the wrong place. The solid, cold and closed skin of House strongly reminds us of death, of something doomed to stay in the past. Because of its appearance, both its shape and the mass and colour of its material, the piece resembles a tombstones or a mausoleum. If so many people hated the piece and asked for its demolition, it is because they found it too creepy to wake up in the morning and open their blinds to the view of a one to one dead house, to be simply walking in the street and encountering a gigantic tombstone, a reminder that we, and everything else, comes to an end.

Permanence/Absence Paradox

The houses of the dead are in fact more permanent than the houses of the living, and in history the necropolis was a fundamental adjunct to the metropolis. The necropolis was a boundary zone outside the city that became an impenetrable barrier; the dead acted as reinforcement of city walls. The ghosts of the dead inhabited the necropolis as much as the living inhabited their cities.

The necropolis is a celebration of absence. Death is physically present and yet missing, the architecture of these cities of ghosts echoes this paradox, tending towards the archetypal dwelling and the opulence of the monument for which occupants can have no use.

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Exciting Stuff on Death

Exhibition Death: A Self-Portrait at the Wellcome

Thinking Allowed on the sociology of death and dying on Radio 4

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Mix (and merge?) the City of the Living with the City of the Dead

Houses and mausoleums, human beings and skeletons. How can the necropolis be inserted into the metropolis? Where are the overlaps? How can these two worlds interact? Where are they separated? Does one see both?

Can the city of the Dead be inserted into the city centre without occupying any of the ground floor space?

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ReCon Images

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Superstudio Quotes

“I did not want to find a monumental architecture

I did not want to find a fashionable architecture,

I did not want to find a beautiful architecture,

instead I always sought a ‘skinless’ architecture,

an architecture in which the outside arises from the inside,

straight out of the inner life of the men who live in it.”


“For those who, like ourselves, are convinced that architecture is one of the few ways

to realise cosmic order on earth, to put things according to reason,

it is a “moderate utopia” to imagine a near future in which all architecture will be created with a single act,

from a single design capable of clarifying once and for all

the motives which have induced man to build dolmens, menhirs, pyramids,

and lastly to trace (ultimate ration) a white line in the desert.”


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ReCon Storyboard

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More concrete

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What does absence look like?

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Very much in progress


Walks for the purpose of working out the plot. Walks that release delirious chemicals in the brain as they link random sites.


Image will outweigh actuality. There will be more photographs than buildings. Time-coded light imprisoned in cruel rectangles.





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London walking.

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London without all the concrete – Votes required!

I am going to cast all London interiors in concrete, so please vote for your favourite views of the city!






































































































































































































































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James Wines on Drawing – for Merve

Article on Blueprint Magazine: James Wines speaks of the importance and history of drawing in architecture [30.09.09]

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Wines Retrospective – for Merve


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Melnikov House: Ground Floor

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Melnikov House: Cosmic Architecture

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Melnikov House: Geometry

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