The Tower of Death

Mumbai, India
General Square
--- sq. m.
Archi-world Academy 2013-2015
2015 (Competition)
Design Team
Kutay Bibero─člu
Burak ─░lhan
Winner (selected by Fernando Romero)

We are living in an extraordinary time. Not only in different geographies, but in a same urban context, we can witness people with different economic backgrounds living with different life standards. The consumerist society always looks for a new market to abuse and invent new needs that will feed their endless satisfaction. The world is getting to a point where the validity of Maslow's hierarchy of needs is no more viable. A much stronger phenomenon has replaced the basic needs that we once used to have; our ego. Something as extraordinary as building an immortal landmark after one's death -which was once privilege centuries ago- turned into a basic need for many individuals. We desperately seek fame and power. Even after we die, we want to exist in a physical world. The only thing yet to conquer is death.

An estimated number of 10 billion is expected to be reached by the end of the 21st century. (graph) But the issue of overpopulation is only one side of the coin. No matter the rate at which our population grows, the fact is that the number of deceased people grows exponentially. Even today, the graveyards occupy large spaces that we cannot possibly have the luxury of spending in the future, when billions of new graves are needed. (graph) In a future where vertical growth is mandatory, the graveyards must be re-designed as 3-dimensional structures that are compatible with the evolving urban fabric. Every footprint of every graveyard in the world will be multiplied by thousands in 100 years' time. This future interpretation of graveyards will possibly introduce a new architectural typology and many new opportunities for humankind to abuse.

In the light of these facts and assumptions, we intend to create a scenario for a future dystopian community, where the graveyards become part of public leisure activities and commercial elements.

The new generation's craving for the idea of immortality will result in an ethically corrupt system such that a deceased individual from the upper class holds more importance than someone from the lower class that is still alive. Seeing many examples of narcissism today, we can predict the future. Social media show us how people like to promote their public images. New websites are introduced where we can organize a public profile for a deceased individual, so that people can offer condolences online. There are examples of celebrities giving millions of dollars to buy their future graves next to other famous people. Nowadays people are using graveyards as a setting for their wedding photographs. A considerable amount of people already started to pay a fortune to build themselves and their families mausoleums and exhibit their lifetime achievements after death. A new market is rising for the sake of getting closer to being immortal.

The example project's site is selected to be in Mumbai, India. Being the second most populated and one of the less developed countries in the world, the scenario best fits in the context of the slums in Mumbai. Even today we can see the significant welfare gap in different parts of the same city. With the increasing consumption rate and over population, the future of Mumbai will most likely reveal the contrast between different life qualities in the harshest way. This project shows an extreme example of a futuristic environment where the dead can be more valuable than the living based on their profits in a world of consumption.

In our scenario, public complexes will be designed in the form of high rise landmarks in which cemeteries are exhibited for thousands of deceased people as well as other functions such as exhibitions, commercial spaces, touristic spots, entertainment facilities and restaurants. As a reflection of social imbalance, hierarchy between cemetery rooms will be formed around the popularity and profitability of the deceased. Product placement will take place on the grave rooms, exhibited personal items and even on the cadavers themselves. This new market will involve top earning companies to sponsor for the installation, maintenance and other costs of a cemetery room to promote their own products to thousands of visitors from all around the world every day. People will experience the life stories, lifetime achievements, memories and see personal belongings of the deceased whether they are relatives or not. Different exhibition means such as audiovisual media, holograms and interactive tools will be placed in the cemeteries and other functions where appropriate. Today's trend of individuals becoming a media source by means of social media, lays the foundation for the future dystopia. Our project criticizes the idea that it is a matter of time until individuals' value for their own privacy will be irrelevant as long as there is profit involved.