"The Victorians were said to have invented death in Britain " - so says Steve Rose of The Guardian. While the statement may seem absurd at first, Rose is referring to the grand, opulent cemeteries of the Victorian era that were as much public parks as they were places of mourning. His article laments the country's later move towards bland, depressing design, and the falling into disrepair of famous cemeteries such as Arnos Vale in Bristol or London's Apney Park. However, it seems the art of creating great burial places is not yet, ahem, dead, with new, innovative designs for crematoriums, chapels and cemeteries cropping up, and a corresponding movement to restore Victorian graveyards to their former architectural glory, while protecting their status as havens of biodiversity:
Cabe, the Commission for Architecture and the Built Environment, last month entered the debate, with the plea: "Design cemeteries for the living, not just the dead." Burial grounds account for up to half of all green space in some urban boroughs, Cabe pointed out, and with better planning, they could become pleasant places to visit for non-mourners, too.
Rose goes on to reference the growing trend in woodland and eco-burials, describing self-recycling as the "last word in environmental responsibility." Of course, such thoughts are hardly new to regular readers of TreeHugger — we've previously covered various aspects of greening the end of your life, including composting your own corpse, using a jute coffin, eco-friendly funeral pyres and sustainably-oriented burial companies. Heck, on our travels in the design community we've even seen cupboards that double up as coffins for that day when you no longer need storage space. To quote Rose's article once more, "No matter where we choose to be laid to rest, [...] good design could benefit us all - dead or alive." Amen to that.
Image: Woodland Burial Park, Colney, UK.::The Guardian::via site visit::