Architecture of the Afterlife: Crypts, Tombs and Mausoleums

Architecture of the Afterlife: Crypts, Tombs and Mausoleums

Mortality defines both architecture and human experience. Throughout time, funerary structures have been designed across societies and civilizations to ground personal and shared beliefs. The idea of the afterlife shapes how these buildings are made, from symbolic monuments to vast tombs and crypts. Now a new range of modern architecture has been designed for remembrance and reflection.

© Paul Crosby Photography© David Frutos Ruiz© Gianluca Gelmini© Jonathan Hadiprawira+ 15

© Jonathan Hadiprawira
© Jonathan Hadiprawira

Beyond iconic examples like the Igualada Cemetery in Spain, contemporary funerary architecture is made with diverse programming. From communal spaces for gathering to quiet rooms where individuals pay their respects, these projects are also increasingly made to integrate with the surrounding landscape. Built in the last decade, the following work illustrates how modern architects and landscape designers are creating new funerary spaces to celebrate life and provide solace.

Pantheon for an Engineer / Martinez Vidal

© David Frutos Ruiz
© David Frutos Ruiz

Steel became the primary structure for this project. What is physical, what is tectonic, represented by reinforced concrete, seems to stand up between two glass horizontal figures which connect the internal and the external sides of the construction. The lacquered sheet folds indicate the entrance and shows the way to the center.

Chia Ching Mausoleum / Álvaro Siza + Carlos Castanheira

© Fernando Guerra | FG+SG
© Fernando Guerra | FG+SG

This mausoleum was designed as a space formed by a ceiling that hangs from columns on which a low dome sits, asserting hierarchy and tradition. The massiveness of the exposed concrete and the stone create space and function and open these to the landscape and to infinity.

Family Tomb in the Açor Mountains / Pedro Dias

© Pedro Dias
© Pedro Dias

The concept behind this project was the creation of a simple, restrained and minimalist architectural object that, apart from containing the basic program presented by the client (capacity for 8 coffins), would become both a "tribute to individual memory" and integrating itself in the cemetery, interacting directly with the surrounding mountain landscape.

Mausoleum of the Martyrdom of Polish Villages / Nizio Design International

© Nizio Design International
© Nizio Design International

The building site of the Mausoleum of the Martyrdom of Polish Villages in Michniów underwent the successive fifth stage of construction works. The Mausoleum's design envisaged a monolithic sculptural architectural form to give room to a multimedia exhibition which through its shape is to convey the dramaturgy of the historical developments symbolized by Michniów itself.

Botta Cripta / Gianluca Gelmini

© Gianluca Gelmini
© Gianluca Gelmini

The project of the renovation of the crypt is part of a bigger project for the church of Sacro Cuore e S. Egidio Abate in Sotto il Monte (Bergamo). The project included the renovation of the church's nave and the external walls, roof and the new belfry. This church was built in the 1930 but the originally project was never completed.

Lakewood Cemetery Garden Mausoleum / HGA Architects and Engineers

© Paul Crosby Photography
© Paul Crosby Photography

Lakewood Cemetery needed a new Mausoleum to expand above ground options for crypt and cremation burials, and to accommodate contemporary memorial rites and practices. The project, a new “Garden Mausoleum” called for burial space for over ten thousand people, a committal chapel, and a reception space for post-service gatherings.

Atrium of Holy Angels Mausoleum / Harmer Architecture

© Trevor Mein
© Trevor Mein

The Atrium of Holy Angels Mausoleum is located in one of Melbourne’s major urban cemeteries, Fawkner Memorial Park in Sydney Road Fawkner, which is managed by the Greater Metropolitan Cemeteries Trust. The Trust commissioned Harmer Architecture to design the mausoleum as a fourth stage to the nearby Holy Angels Mausoleum complex.

Pantheon Nube / Clavel Arquitectos

© David Frutos Ruiz
© David Frutos Ruiz

Since the tomb should be impossible to open, even if you wanted to, there are no handles or locks. The doors are inserted in the walls, merging together, making the entrances secret. In fact, the façade can be only opened in a specific way, a combination that only the owner knows. Inside is an airy space intersected by sunlight.

About this author
Cite: Eric Baldwin. "Architecture of the Afterlife: Crypts, Tombs and Mausoleums" 04 Aug 2020. ArchDaily. Accessed . <https://www.archdaily.com/945009/architecture-of-the-afterlife-crypts-tombs-and-mausoleums> ISSN 0719-8884
© David Frutos Ruiz

往生建筑:墓穴,坟墓和陵寝

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