Stunning architecture (almost) worth dying for

Updated 5th January 2018
Credit: Javier Pardos
Stunning architecture (almost) worth dying for
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Architecture related to death doesn't have to be morbid, as shown by a recent spate of contemporary crematoriums, mausoleums and memorials. The trend is for buildings that are minimalist in form, with as little decoration as possible, and often featuring exposed, simple materials like brick and concrete.
But this formula doesn't always result in dark and claustrophobic spaces. For instance, a stark concrete funeral home by Spanish studio Salas Architecture + Design features an angular roof that incorporates a huge skylight, allowing light to flood into a waiting room for mourners.  
Similarly, abundant light and airflow was crucial to the design of a building by Japanese architect Furumori Koichi, which is used for storing funeral urns. The building has both a glazed roof and a timber lattice ceiling, allowing dappled light to filter down inside.
A Japanese temple by Furumori Koichi Architectural Design Studio
A Japanese temple by Furumori Koichi Architectural Design Studio Credit: Furumori Koichi architectural design studio
Some architects choose an unusual material, like Pritzker Prize-winner RCR Arquitectes did for their collaboration with Coussée & Goris Architecten on a crematorium in rural Belgium. The building's linear facade was created from concrete with a striking orange tint, matching the color of a common local stone.
CN10 Architett also chose to work with concrete for a trio of funerary arches in a northern Italian cemetery, but instead chose a blend that is bright white. The studio paired this with a pale marble, creating structures that are eye-catchingly bright.
Unsurprisingly, some of the most experimental structures relating to death are monuments and memorials. Free from any day-to-day function, these become more and more unusual.
One striking example is a copper tower, created in the English countryside by architecture studio Borheh. Comprising eight intersecting arches, it houses the grave of an Iranian philosopher who practiced an ancient form of Islamic mysticism.
This over-sized camera lens sits on top of Čukur hill in Banovina, Croatia
This over-sized camera lens sits on top of Čukur hill in Banovina, Croatia Credit: Bosnić+Dorotić
Far simpler in form, but no less powerful, is a memorial shaped like a giant camera lens, installed on a Croatian hilltop by local studio NFO. Punctuated by a single bullet hole, it pays tribute to a photojournalist killed in the Croatian War of Independence.
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