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Canadian Urbanism Uncovered

Tomb for the Living

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Exerpt from Connect2Edmonton by thirdstone inc (site design/concept lead for the Muttart’s plaza and courtyard addition):

Understanding Hemingway’s Original Design Concept

Though it has been suggested that the pyramidal shape was selected for its ‘practical requirements’, we were fascinated by Peter Hemingway’s bold yet successful attempt to simulate Giza’s pyramidal forms, which in effect was to ‘house the dead’. The architect sought to employ a comparable shape to ‘house the living’ with that of a modern botanical conservatory. The former signified reverence to those that occupied the ancient pyramids, while conservatory patrons venerate rare and prized living plant species collected from around the world.

This underlying analogy allowed us to interpret Hemingway’s notion to dispel the sombre overtones associated with this typology, with that of life and verve – thereby effectively and completely reversing the metaphor.

  • Death vs. Life
  • Permanent vs. Ephemeral
  • Long life (Afterlife) vs. Transience, relative to Time (as in Plant Life) – Living or lasting for a day, as certain plants or insects do.
  • Material: Monolithic (heavy, solid) vs. Transparent (light, clear)
  • Terrain: Arid / Dry / Textural vs. Lush / Humid / Pristine

Photo by hobvias sudoneighm / CC BY 2.0
Photo taken on the 20th of July, 2007