“I wanted to show some ways in which you could approach death in a social and civic way, and further, what meaning there was in death, in the ephemerality of life—other than these shoeboxes,” explained Venetian architect Carlo Scarpa in his 1976 lecture, “Can Architecture Be Poetry?” He was referring to a project he had started several years earlier, a commission to build a tomb for the Italian electronics entrepreneur, Giuseppe Brion. Scarpa imagined the cemetery as more than a burial ground; he imagined it as a philosophical commentary on mortality, and a space for future generations.
Though we may think of cemeteries as transporting us to the past
to remember and honor our loved ones, they have historically been spaces of innovation and reinvention in art, architecture, and design. In the 19th century, for example, idyllic park-like cemeteries were established in response to increasingly overcrowded, unhygienic urban graveyards. Some of the most visionary resting places for human souls were designed in this past decade alone. From the Alpine countryside to the forests of Sweden, these cemeteries, mausoleums, and crematoriums are artworks in their own right—and worthy memorials to the deceased.