How societies build for death varies and offers deep and solemn investigations into architectural topics of narrative, identity and form. Few American cultures provide a better context to understand such interests as the Treme Lafitte neighborhood in New Orleans. Historically, the oldest African-American neighborhood in the United States, and recognized as the birthplace of Jazz; Treme Lafitte mourns death by celebrating life with a unique combination of performance, constructed identity and urban form.
This proposal for a new casket and tomb conflates the importance of the event (the funeral procession) and the monument (the tomb). Constructed as a number of layers, the assembly houses human remains on singular posture and position, while providing a genre of shape that, depending o its orientation, is both sensible for funeral procession (i.e. a large drum to be rolled along with brass band and performers, called second-liners) and a final marker of one's stature; (i.e. a three dimensional insignia). Beyond the heighten drama these tombs would add to the spectacle of a jazz funeral, the long term rituals and character of the cemetery would be altered. Consistent with New Orleans practice of housing the dead above ground, these tombs would remain where the parade ends standing up-right. As time passes and they settle in the soil under their own weight, the dead's surviving loved-ones will come back and continually correct their leaning postures. In this simple act of remembrance, a new social practice that links architectural form and culture emerges to produce an ever changing field of shapes within New Orleans' urban fabric.
Status: School Project
Additional Credits: University of Illinois at Chicago (Grant Gibson)