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  • columbarium at sea

    columbarium at sea
    los angeles CALIFORNIA

    Woodbury University Degree Project – Columbarium at Sea: The Poetics of Transcendence in Hong Kong Harbor

    suckerPUNCH: describe your project.

    tin-shun BUT: The world’s urban population is growing exponentially. In 20 years according to the U.N Census, a shortage of land in fully developed coastal cities such as Hong Kong, Shanghai, Tokyo will reach into the afterlife. By 2030, “No Room for the Dead” will become a rising social, political and cultural issue in many urban cities. My vision is to create an alternative typology for the dead in order to accommodate this growth and to mitigate the negative effects of urbanization.



    In Hong Kong, land scarcity has created such soaring prices for graveyard plots that 90% of the dead are now cremated. The city will need to accommodate 400,000 urns niches in the next 20 years. Hong Kong has been experiencing a serious controversy over building multi-story columbariums in the city to accommodate this growth. While residents complain about the lack of urns niches; they are also against building columbariums on land due to the belief in Feng Shui. This dilemma generates a possibility for a new typology; a columbarium besides building a tower.

    I proposed to design a floating columbarium that is anchored in the harbor away from land and urban density. The harbor of Hong Kong is a neglected public asset and thus is an opportunity to re-engage the harbor for public use. The columbarium is a place of collective memories for the city where cremated are scattered as ashes or buried in urns. The journey from land to this floating space represents the transformation of human body into ashes. The goal is to create an experience of “moving on to the next” – a synthesis between horizon and the datum of the ocean celebrating the lives that are buried in this space or scattered in the sea.

    sP: what or who influenced this project?

    tsB: The controversy of building multi-stories columbarium in Hong Kong

    sP: what were you reading/listening to/watching while developing this project?

    tsB: Delirious New York, Rem Koolhass, Movie: The Final Mark

    sP: whose work is currently on your radar?

    tsB: Rem Koolhass, SANNA, MVRDV, BIG, VINCENT CALLEBAUT