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This thesis explores the realm of death and loss through architecture. I question how architecture can facilitate a healing process beyond customary spaces like a cemetery, memorial, or temple, and how the raw emotions associated with loss can be represented in a tangible way. The experience of loss is one of the most natural and certain parts of our life, whether in a private or collective setting, we are all affected by it. Loss is always coupled with a complex set of emotions. Using my skills as a student of architecture, I have developed this thesis as a method of coping with those emotions—a momentary closure. This document is an expression of the rawness of loss represented through storytelling, art, and design. With the desire to start an open conversation, it begins with a vulnerable moment where I share personal stories of loss and death. Organized around my experiences and the mysterious disappearance of Malaysia Airlines Flight 370 (2014), this thesis traverses the cross-cultural needs and responses to loss in the immediate moments that follow, and the vast expanse of time afterwards. I search for common ground between the grieving processes of different places and people to understand its universal characteristics and explore how these elements, or a lack thereof, can impact one’s ability to process loss and, ultimately, to heal. This study bends into an investigation of architecture and its capacity to respond to traumatic loss. It challenges architecture’s ability to convey a story, provide a journey, and transform its occupants. It culminates in a design proposal for a vessel that proffers a journey of healing, a home for rituals and ceremony, and a transition between life, death, and rebirth. Through a curated selection of moments, architecture itself becomes a medium to portray real experiences of loss and death, and the memories attached to them. This thesis is an account of my healing journey.
Cite this version of the work
Jane Wu (2022). Navigating Loss. UWSpace. http://hdl.handle.net/10012/18359