architectural project VERTICAL CEMETERY | tokyo _japan

A ceremonial stairway to the sky

The constitutive idea of the design is the creation of a central, even ceremonial stairway that reaches up to the roof top garden at a height of 130 meters and invokes the ceremonial staircases of Japanese cemeteries. In many cultures, the iconographic gesture of an endlessly long stairway describes the transgression from one state of being into another, and thus also informs the character of our vertical cemetery.

This staircase construction provides access to spatially differentiated, open platforms whose small scale enables quiet contemplation and familial, intimate mourning. The rhythmically stacked platforms beget a serial and minimalistic architectural sculpture which, in its laconic-repetitive structure, is aimed at a recognizance of the ineluctable, final fact of death for every human existence. Its formally restrained presence enables the collage-type addition of traditional Japanese cemetery design elements such as half-open temple complexes and shrines, holy Torii-gates, wells or flower selling points, for example.

The powerful tranquillity of the overall facility with variously designed vertical and hanging gardens as contemplative places of mourning for whatever religious confession forms an effective contrast to the adjacent entertainment district of Kabukich?. As a retreat from the hustle and bustle of the city, our cemetery can and should also be used by people who are not mourning.

A free-standing access tower with two emergency staircases and six efficient lifts establishes a typological dialogue with the 'skyscraper district' while also reducing the noise pollution coming from the metro traffic at Shinjuku Station.

designed by _matthias karch