Tokyo Vertical Cemetery
Competition 2016 Tokyo Japan
Mitama, the Japanese word for the honorable spirit or soul of the dead, is conceived as a new funeral temple and cemetery rising out of the heart of Tokyo’s Shinjuku Ward. Located along Yasukuni Dori street and bookended by the famed nightlife of Kabukichō District to the East and the Skyscraper District to the West the building aligns itself to the oncoming elevated rail line from Shinjuku Train Station (world’s busiest). Surrounded by a vast array of audio, visual and olfactory information the new temple/cemetery strives to create a place for pause and introspection to those reflecting on a life no longer present.
Seen as the foundation for the cemetery, the funeral temple is depressed below street level where it holds all of the ceremonial rooms needed for a traditional Japanese funeral. Spaces included body preparation, memorial services, crematorium and a private space for the collection of the remains. A large glass skylight at the memorial temples acts as the base for the reflecting pool above providing natural light and a connection to the Sun and the Moon through the open air atrium.
Providing a buffer from the street while separating the funeral temple and cemetery program, the entry hall and offices form the pedestal to the columbarium above. The Great Hall located along Yasukuni Dori, provides access to foot traffic passing between districts. A reflection pool separates the local pedestrians from visitors to the building. Shinto and Buddhist shrines line the Memorial Hall entry for those wishing to offer prayer. Offices for the management of the cemetery and temple are located along a mezzanine above the entry.
Rising off the base, the cemetery is designed as a series of open air alcoves surrounding the central atrium that connects all of the programs together.
Enameled cast iron urns carrying the physical and digital remains of the deceased are incorporated with a series of small precast concrete elements to form a structural lattice of piers and walls that give rise to the cemetery. The memorial vessels become an integral part of the building, visible along the outer facade as well as all spaces within.
Located within each Urn is a small cpu and transceiver, which through the aid of an application developed for mobile devices, allows visitors to the cemetery to locate their loved ones, access digital files from the deceased and to see the visitor recored of those who have stopped by to pay their respects.