Last Landscape

A park cemetery in a Milanese abandoned railway yard

This thesis has the aim to analyze and give an answer to the future of cemeteries, where places related with death become part of the lives of the living. Cemetery can become part of a sustainable community, used on a daily basis as a public green space rich of biodiversity while still serving the needs of those in mourning: a place of spirituality for all.

Image work detail

We are living in an era of deep and fast changes. The world is experiencing a spread existential crisis due to an enduring attitude of individualism and materialism: so it comes the need for spirituality places that let people think and give space to the spirit, to the introspection, in a time when we are constantly assailed by external inputs. We believe spirituality, in any way it is intended, is intellectually vital to be human. Architecture has a great responsibility in this: it has to accommodate human needs, and it’s clear nowadays the need for places to host different contemporary spiritualities in the final moment of the life of a human being.

Last Landscape is a cemetery but also a park, and therefore a space for life in all its activities. We designed the landscape of the park and a variety of small buildings, which works as a pole of attraction for whom use this place aside from the cemetery functions. This new urban space for spirituality has been designed in 460000 abandoned sqm in the middle of Milan. The cemetery adopts nature and plants as universal symbols of rebirth and remembrance, in which everyone can feel at ease, beyond religions and cults. Our two main buildings are the Crematorium and the Lake Pavilion. The Crematorium is a narrow long building in concrete and opaque glass. All service rooms are on the north side while the south side is dedicated to the experience of visitors that enter and leave from the two opposite sides of the building. The mourners are therefore encouraged to follow a physical and spiritual path to the acceptance of loss. At the end of the path a wide arch opens onto the Fragrant Garden: a cosy garden with medium-height and high-density vegetation that gives protection and intimacy. The 24 chosen plants are shrubs and aromatic trees: every month of the year a bloom and a fragrance prevails. The Lake Pavilion is a commemoration hall. Like all the other buildings in the Cemetery Park it has no religious symbols in order to welcome funerary practices of all different cultures. The long stair on the roof immerge the visitor inside the building assuming a highly symbolic meaning as it represent the needed introspection to overcome grief. The pavilion is composed of a linear sequence of rooms to allow regaining time for mourning. The last room you enter is facing the lake. Here we encounter the theme of water, representing life and regeneration. A deck on the lake extends the pavilion's outer space, as the last symbolic regenerative act and return to nature for the body. The vegetation is made of aquatic marsh plants. There is a sequence of green borders made to give the feeling of being immersed in a natural space allowing you to create spaces for rest, reflection. Long marks in the land are reminders of the railway lines present in the area.