arch out loud releases proposals for vertical cemeteries in tokyo

arch out loud releases proposals for vertical cemeteries in tokyo


architectural research initiative ‘arch out loud’ challenged designers to develop proposals for a vertical cemetery to combat ever dwindling burial space in tokyo, japan. as the average age and population increase, private developers in tokyo have used temples as covers to build cemetery plots which they can sell at a vast profit. this practice results in the unwanted placement of cemeteries adjacent to homes in the already densely populated neighborhoods of the city.

designers were tasked with developing proposals for a cemetery to combat dwindling burial space in tokyo



arch out loud’s challenge tasked designers with exploring the relationship between life and death in the city by suggesting designs for purpose built vertical cemeteries. looking closely at contemporary attitudes to death and the city, the unique brief afforded designers the opportunity to both efficiently respond to the issue of space and also examine the cultural identity of japan as a nation, it’s perception of death and it’s infamously populous urban centers. with 460 proposals representing 54 countries and six continents, the final proposals balanced reverence, innovation and thoughtful urban design.

the brief afforded designers the opportunity to efficiently respond to the issue of space



each of the final projects critically examined some aspect of the relationship between life and death: whether it be the desire to mourn individually within a highly-populated cemetery complex, or the ability of a vertical cemetery to reach beyond the physical meaning of ‘verticality’. the final selections are noted for translating a commonly understood definition of verticality in ways which provided mechanistic, fictional, sympathetic and evocative answers to difficult questions about death. the winning designers critically approached the notion of ubiquitous urban verticality when applied to the cemetery typology. each project discerns the finality of death, yet reinterprets an urban relationship between the city and its dead.

the winning design is entitled, ‘death is not the end. being forgotten is’



the overall winner ‘death is not the end. being forgotten is’ by wei li he, wu jing ting zeng, zhi ruo ma, and kui yu gong explores a new way of dealing with the spatial constraint of urban cemeteries while expressing a unique approach to life and death. cremated remains are stored in balloons that gradually rise up the central chute of the building and are eventually released into the sky. resonating with the temporality of life, the appearing and disappearing of the balloons departs from the solemnity and silence of traditional cemetery design by proposing a new space of tranquility, realized in a tower of rising balloons.

a runner up design entitled, ‘in-between’

runner up: in-between

runner up: in-between

runner up: inner landscape


runner up: inner landscape


runner up: inner landscape

runner up: beyond the horizon of conciousness

runner up: beyond the horizon of conciousness


competition jury: david adjaye, tom wiscombe, alison killing, liam young, curtis roth, astrid klein, masatake shinohara, karla britton, dongwoo yim, rafael luna, and ania molenda.



designboom has received this project from our ‘DIY submissions‘ feature, where we welcome our readers to submit their own work for publication. see more project submissions from our readers here.


edited by: peter corboy | designboom

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