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sade akinsanya sixth year comprehensive design project MArch

“The only thing certain in life, is death”. Death is viewed as the ultimate end, but can experiential architecture change the way in which we mourn our loved ones in the future? Using promession, the alpha & omega project proposes a new and ecologically friendly way to put our loved ones to rest. The San Teodoro valley becomes a central foci in which spaces for the promession process, areas for reflection, services and body storage, as well as the landscape itself work as a natural unmarked burial ground for the ‘humus’ or crystalized remains, ensuring that life continues beyond the physicality of the human body, and returns to earth instead. The project will be used as an exemplar alternative lower carbon solution to cremation and traditional burial methods. The initial design of the project focuses on paths and waymaking as a way of developing form, with the scheme having a running linearity to it representing the traditional processional route.

The design will work as an experiential tool to make mourners feel a certain way as they make their way throughout the site. The project was inspired by poems and letters of loss which have been collaged above.

The layout for the scheme was based on the holy trinity; the father, the son and the holy spirit. The concept was developed in three stages, laying out spheres / buildings, connecting them by paths, and finally dividing the site by levels of privacy for mourners.

concept & analysis The concept was developed based on an Architects Journal article titled, ‘The Architecture of death’. The notion of designing for death and creating intimate, sacred and very private spaces littered with metaphorical meaning was something that sparked an interest design wise. Eventually the rough concept became about the idea of changing perceptions of death through architecture, with biblical references of the body returning to earth, but the spirit and soul returning to God / Heaven as a main theme that runs cyclically through the design. Given that the surrounding buildings are the old war fort and the dilapidated cemetery, the idea of developing a project based on death was cemented. Catharsis via a pilgrimage was the main theme as was the idea of descending into a valley as a metaphor for death and resurrection.

A thorough understanding of the metaphorical significances of the valley and the mountain was essential to designing purposefully and ensure a rich design. The mountain signifying ascension and closeness to God, whilst the valley signifying fruitful abundance and a means to an end. There were two paths to choose from in regards to responding to the landscape, and these were to either work against the grain of the landscape, or to work with the contours and design more intuitively. The former was chosen and it was decided that the architecture should work as ‘markers’ in the landscape as it is so vast. These ‘markers’ would help visitors find their way around the site more easily. The site was also divided into three main areas, with all three creating different emotional responses. The top section of the site is exposed and can be compared to the mountain , it would be the start of the project, literally and figuratively, the middle section works as a transitional point, and the lowest area of the valley is supposed to be transformative.


chapel bridge & garden


The final scheme as illustrated above is a series of buildings that cut across a valley landscape with formed with man made processional paths.

site model showing scheme layout in valley.

la capella omega {the omega chapel}

The design of the chapel was the one that underwent the most changes. The chapel was designed to be simple and symmetrical with the internal layout guiding the visitors eye to both the altar and the body recessional chamber.

From the rest of the site, the chapel appears as a rectangular box shaped void in the landscape, but only in section can one understand it’s complex roof layout and underground lift system to transport bodies to the promessor and urn collection

initial chapel structural studies & sketches

model illustrating initial scheme concept

final presentation board

{Alpha & Omega } Sixth Year Architecture - Individual Project  
{Alpha & Omega } Sixth Year Architecture - Individual Project  

A brief summary of my Sixth Year individual project.