‘Death in the City’ is a touring exhibition about death and modern architecture. First stop, Venice, Italy, 4-11 June 2014.
The theme of death is relevant to us all and where we die is a critical part of that; how and where we die underpin a lot of cultural ideas about what a ‘good death’ is. In the UK, 3% of people want to die in hospital, but 53% do; almost one in three hospital patients in Scotland will die within a year, and nearly one in 10 will die during their time in hospital. As architects and urban designers, we think that it is important to look critically at our approach to death and the places associated with it, so that we can start to create better spaces for death and dying in the future.
‘Death in Venice’ is an independent event, which will be shown at the Ludoteca Santa Maria Ausiliatrice in Venice (Italy), from 4-11 June 2014. It will exhibit the evolution of the relationship between modern architecture and our understanding of and approach to death over the last century.
The exhibition lends its overarching theme from this year’s Architecture Venice Biennale, which will focus on the ‘Fundamentals’ of architecture and the theme ‘Absorbing Modernity 1914-2014’.
“After several architecture biennales dedicated to the celebration of the contemporary, Fundamentals will look at histories, try to reconstruct how architecture finds itself in its current situation, and speculate on the future.” – Rem Koolhaas, curator of the 14th Architecture Venice Biennale
The development of architecture related to death and dying has been, over the past decades, as vivid and significant as the development of other modern ideas that shaped the contemporary city. Nevertheless, it is rarely foregrounded in the architectural history of the 20th century. We decided to bring this topic to the discussion of fundamentals and modernity because death is fundamental and its changing place in modern society is worth significantly more attention from architects and urban designers.