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Who we are
Think Outside the Park is an inclusive student group of undergraduates and graduates at the University of Washington representing the fields of landscape architecture, architecture, art, design, urban planning, and digital media design. Our design aims to invite difficult conversations about the environment and society at a city and state scale. We understand designing respectfully with a provocative topic. We appreciate the complexity and sensitivity surrounding death. We want to show the communal aspect of death, the beauty of new land use with landscape and trees, and the spiritual aspect of living metaphorically through the land and trees.
Our design highlights the process of death as a system through experience of space with ritual in death, embraced by the human composting system. Through research and design we looked at existing and future policies through the lens of land use, ecology, and soil science, which led us to the topic of sustainable death practices. Seattle is in a unique position to celebrate the decolonizing of the death system process by allowing individuals to choose to give back to the landscape, which is inspired by the ecological idea that an organism takes from the system while living and gives back through mortality. Washington is the first state to legalize human composting led by Recompose founder Katrina Spade (who we have communicated with and is excited to see our installation).
We have consulted several professionals on the clarity, simplicity, and poetry of our idea.
We are purposing a semi-circular slatted wall with small gaps between each slat (this is to allow natural light to filter in, yet still provide a private communal aspect inside the space), juxtaposed to this is a smaller semi-circular stone wall (acting as a marker of a human’s presence and memory/impact on earth). The form represents the cyclical way of life and the experience of ritual through death and life. The interior of the semi-circles is covered with a layer of soil (still walkable and “wheelable”). Behind the stone wall facing into the semi-circular space a mound of soil has an acrylic void metaphorically representing a coffin size hole in the ground. With effective and simple signage, we will indicate the intent of communal acts of scooping up the mound soil and adding it to the acrylic void (this acts represents the cultural shift of reconnecting to the natural processes of giving back to the earth…reconnecting to the balance of the ecological system). On the interior side of the gapped wood slats, we will have opaque printed vellum with facts, maps, and information about this process, land use, ecology, and soil ecology.
There will be no roof to metaphorically symbolize the connection to the spirit of the sky. In summary, we want visitors to feel the sense of ritual in the space and the participation of something significant within the topic of balancing life and death.
Recycled wood, soil, acrylic panels, concrete paste, cloth, plants, mushroom log, and printed vellum