2018-19 YEAR 3



Stories Told by the Fire

A less carbon-intensive alternative to cremation is being introduced in Europe. Alkaline Hydrolysis, or ‘flameless cremation’, is a process where the body is broken down using lye and heat. With the flame no longer present in the process, this project speculates on how the poetic impact and atmosphere created by the flame can be reintroduced through the architecture.
The Alkaline Hydrolysis Centre is situated in central Helsinki at the end of a long street which stretches South. The low Helsinki sun reaches the site through an urban corridor created by this street. The building proposal is organised around this axis of sunlight, so that the light flooding into the ceremony space falls gently on the person being mourned.
It is increasingly common for mourners to leave eulogies on digital platforms such as the Facebook page of the deceased. Inside this building, those digital memories are translated into a binary code. The encoded memories of the deceased are then charred into the fabric of the mass-timber building. Over time, these surfaces are carved away, and the inscribed timber panels are developed into new and inhabitable parts of the building. The low sunlight pierces through these inscriptions, filling the ceremony space with dappled light.

Tutors: Thomas Pearce, Greg Storrar