Journey of an Architect is a blog started by Tim Ung to document his journey to design 30 projects by the age of 30 (May 2020). His posts focus on his design process, thoughts, struggles, and successes throughout his journey.

Starting Project 13x30 Sky Mausoleum

Starting Project 13x30 Sky Mausoleum

Over the past few weeks, I’ve been brainstorming several exciting projects to continue my 30x30 goal and I’m excited to tell you about one of them; Sky Mausoleum which will be my 13th project in this series. As the name implies, project 13x30 will be a mausoleum in New York City that challenges our notion of cemeteries and storing the remains of our loved ones. This project is meant to provoke further thought in the architectural typology of mausoleums while relating to current issues and trends of society in the 21st century. Here’s how.

Coming up with the idea for Sky Mausoleum

Let’s get straight to the point. Every day, our world population increases by more than double the number of deaths and every generation lives a longer life than the previous one. In fact, there’s an approximate ratio of 19 births to 8 deaths for every population of 1,000 people. If we follow the lifestyle trend of the younger generations, a majority of the population is migrating to major cities such as Chicago, New York City, San Francisco, and so on.

With a constantly growing population within an already dense urban environment, the price of living per square foot is skyrocketing to unbelievable numbers. As people attain enough wealth to purchase condominiums or cooperative living units, they search for units that offer the best square footage, interior layout, windows, and views. In fact, those who are wealthy enough to purchase any unit in these cities tend to purchase large units or ones that are higher in the sky.

In these hyper dense urban environments where everyone is fighting to get the best living unit with the greatest views, where do the remains of these people go after death?

Traditionally, a majority of the world’s population are buried in the ground of a cemetery adjacent to their loved ones, placed above ground in a mausoleum, cremated and stored in a mausoleum or religious structure, or cremated and stored at home. These sacred places for storing and visiting the remains of loved ones typically grow horizontally until there’s no more space.

However, if we look at burial grounds of the powerful and wealthy rulers of old cities such as the Taj Mahal and any Egyptian ruler, the remains of the rulers and their loved ones are stored in one of a kind and massive structures.

How can we create a place to store the remains of loved ones in hyper dense cities all over the world? What could the business model of an urban cemetery be?

Concept of Sky Mausoleum

Using New York City as the basis for designing a prototypical cemetery in a hyper dense urban environment, there’s clearly a lack of open land large enough to bury the slightest portion of people living in the city. Clearly, the only way to have a building large enough to hold the remains of a portion of NYC’s population is to go vertically and build a skyscraper.

Imagine a building tall enough to pierce through the clouds with a massive floor area capable of holding tens of thousands of our loved ones’ remains. A building designed to be inwardly focused with a unique and elegant façade that resembles the gothic cathedrals. And, a destination that offers everyone in NYC the ability to visit their loved ones without traveling far away from home.

That place will be Sky Mausoleum.

Potential business model

Following the trend of people living in hyper dense urban environments racing to purchase the best units with the greatest views, Sky Mausoleum has the potential to create a similar impact in NYC’s society. As a skyscraper that reaches beyond the clouds, the purchasing price of areas on every floor will increase with height.

Those who are able to afford to purchase and pay for monthly maintenance fees will be able to obtain an area in their desired location. Similar to penthouses in condominium buildings, the top floors will be prime real estate that is reserved for those who are able to purchase the entire floor. Essentially, the business model of Sky Mausoleum will be similar to condominiums.

Next Steps

With this new project identified, the next step is to select a location in NYC as Sky Mausoleum’s site and to conduct some precedent research on mausoleums to inspire the aesthetic of the building. Once the conceptual design phase of the building starts, I’ll develop a deadline for the project and work towards finalizing the project by that time.

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