In Sydney, in Australia, and throughout much of the world, ever-diminishing land reserves have caused a freeze on cemetery development and made burial space scarce and unaffordable. This so-called ‘burial crisis’ would in fact be much worse if people were not turning to cremation as an alternative. But while cremation’s prevalence has alleviated pressure on cemetery shortages, every cremation consumes as much energy as a single person’s average domestic energy use over an entire month. If current trends continue and more and more people turn from burial to cremation, the worldwide increase in emissions will be truly dire.
Earlier this year we started working on an idea for a new type of burial that would unlock almost limitless land for cemetery development and make burial cost-competitive with cremation. This new burial approach would use native trees rather than grim rows of headstones, would reforest cleared land and provide an alternative to high-emissions livestock grazing, and could even prevent suburban sprawl by locking up open space in perpetuity. We have called this idea Burial Belt and are hoping that it will change how we approach death and interment in Australia and around the world.
The 2019 Oslo Architecture Triennale opens September 27, you can find more information about the Triennale here.