Artificiality, as a manifestation of the pursuit of escape, saturates the city and landscapes of Johannesburg. It is the narrative from which the city spawned, constructs and relentlessly perpetuates itself. This first artificial landscape is the materialization of escape, the synthetic, nostalgic reproduction of the known.
Brixton cemetery is nostalgic remnant existing in Johannesburg. Looming in a state suspended animation, it is an embodiment of the amnesic material and urban blight which pervades the city, created from desire to escape. The nostalgic artificiality inherent in this cemetery (produced by the desire to escape), in dire need of intervention, holds the material which unlocks the method for its reanimation. The project investigates how architecture, as a second artificial landscape, can occupy the amnesic gap inherent in the nostalgic remnant to reanimate the conditions present in the cemetery and the nostalgic forest. This is accomplished through an architectural insertion which appropriates the physical, nostalgic, metaphysical and mythological layers of escape embodied in the cemetery as the strategy for intervention. The project further investigates a new burial typology which functions by either the prevention or acceptance of the inevitable amnesic condition caused by memorialization. A Bioluminescent Conservatory is proposed to reanimate the forest through the artificiality of escape, while the addition of a columbarium serves to expand and reoccupy the cemetery.
Conceptually, the projects investigates how the narrative of escape can further be
absorbed into the architecture through the artificiality inherent in the cemetery’s
material. The idea of negative as an artificial reproduction is adopted as a conceptual strategy for intervention and articulation of the architecture. The negative as conceptual framework is explored through the artistic work of Christian Boltanski who’s work painfully reveals the treachery of memory and memorialization, but also finally signifies the potentiality inherent in this amnesic inevitability to redeem, reoccupy and recreate from this gap. The cemetery and forest are reanimated by disconfiguring the mechanism of escape and the conditions which it instilled in the cemetery.