Cemeteries as healing landscapes
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Citation:Bhatt, K. (2016). Cemeteries as healing landscapes. Unpublished master thesis explanatory document submitted in partial fulfilment of the requirements for the Master of Landscape Architecture degree, Unitec Institute of Technology, New Zealand.
Permanent link to Research Bank record:https://hdl.handle.net/10652/3599
Cemeteries are a key cultural element with a long history that have played a vital role in our constantly changing and evolving society. Due to globalization, multiculturalism has brought with it a mix of death customs and traditions of mourning. These various approaches play a pivotal role in the process of grieving and in turn healing. This project seeks to identify: the universal elements in our approach to death; stages in the grieving process; the potential role of cemeteries in healing and finally, an overview of existing cemetery environments. Analysis of these design precedents has revealed significant underlying principles. The overarching purpose of this research investigation is to utilise this understanding of the grief process, of the death rituals of various cultural groups and of the history of cemetery design, in order to develop strategies and an approach for a cemetery in Auckland that can provide a healing environment. The resultant scheme seeks also to provide ecological solutions that will address the negative impacts of death on the environment, and add to the ecological diversity and natural habitat of the area, while making a space that will in turn become a memorial forest. This project demonstrates a concept of “Returning yourself back to nature and helping it grow for a greener future”. [... ]This led to the selection of Waikumete Cemetery as a site for design interventions. This site was chosen for its location in an urban environment, and because of its significant cultural and landscape history. A site analysis of Waikumete Cemetery showed that the cemetery had the potential for expansion into natural areas within its current limits. This room for development was another key reason for its selection in the study. Analysis resulted in the selection of three test sites within Waikumete Cemetery. Test Site 1 in this study was selected and developed on account of its appealing existing mix of native and exotic vegetation, natural topography, views of the Waitakere ranges and its history of railway connection. The final design concept was then generated and refined based on the findings from theoretical and typological research. This exercise was informed by an understanding of the grief process and existing therapeutic environments in order to create a space that could potentially nurture and heal the bereaved. From an exploration of the stages of the grief process and cemeteries as therapeutic environments this research is anticipated to generate a healing cemetery for a multicultural society that could potentially nurture and heal the bereaved. This spatial and secular design also responds to the issues of land shortage problems to develop findings that are appropriate to Auckland and also worldwide.