Death in the City: The St. Lawrence Funeral Centre
Brown, Liam David Renshaw
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In contemporary North America, death is contained within a network of cemeteries, crematoria and funeral homes. Death-space and its associative funeral rituals are both sacred and abject resulting in marginalization that adversely affects how the living understand their mortality. Our perception of death influences our place in the world and funeral ritual facilitates our departure from it. In most cities, the funeral home houses this liminal ritual, while also providing the clinical handling and processing of the deceased body. Investigation of the funeral home and its role within the city addresses how architecture can influence cultural views on death. Through the funeral home there is an opportunity to balance the seemingly opposing narratives of the living and the deceased by bringing them together for the funeral. In the City of Toronto, the density of its diverse neighbourhoods is not reflected by a proportionate number of local funeral homes. This thesis proposes a non-denominational space for funeral ritual and cremation within the dense St. Lawrence Neighbourhood. The placement of the Funeral Centre satisfies the practical requirements of this growing community, while the adjacency to the St. Lawrence Market juxtaposes the vibrancy of the ordinary and the solemnity of the sacred. This proposal extends into a network for the scattering of ashes throughout the city aiming to reconnect people to the realities of their existence.