The fear of death has haunted mankind since its beginning, and on this fear, on the need to exorcise it, the idea of the sacred has been built.
Recently, in these very pages, Nelson Mota quoted Adolf Loos’s words about tombs and monuments being the quintessential part of Architecture as Art.
Actually, we can consider that statement quite radical but, nevertheless, there is no doubt that subtracting the mere functionality from an artifact places it in a sphere of pure representation of sentiment and memory, a sphere that is the natural ground of the expression of the sacred. Belonging to this sphere, the grave or the crematorium are not just instruments to get rid of corpses, but they are elaborate anthropological artifacts by which the living express their respect for the deceased and the fear, well represented by Claude Lévy Strauss, that they might come back.
Once the fear is exorcised by means of incineration or burial rites, extraordinary, emotional circumstances of death deserve to be remembered as moments in which, through memory, a community expresses and tightens around its collective values.
Modernity, however, has introduced a radical revolution, shifting the focus from a metaphysical sacredness to a humanistic sacredness, motivated no longer by the exorcism of the fear of death but by the compassion for the deceased and for his loved ones.
The submitted projects are animated by human pietas, opting for a lean architectural vocabulary addressed to a composed and respectful silence, and rejecting the traditional and stereotypical symbols related to religion or, in any case, to a metaphysical view.
Written by Aldo Vanini