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It is a fact that architecture "began with the tomb", yet, as Ken Worpole shows us in Last Landscapes, many historic cemeteries have been demolished or abandoned in recent times (notably the case with Jewish cemeteries in Eastern Europe), and there has been an increasing loss of inscription and memorialization in the modern urban cemetery. Too often cemeteries today are both poorly designed and physically and culturally marginalized. Worse, cremation denies a full architectural response to the mystery and solemnity of death.
The author explores how modes of disposal – burial, cremation, inhumation in mausoleums and wall tombs – vary across Europe and North America, according to religious and other cultural influences. And Last Landscapes raises profound questions as to how, in an age of mass cremation, architects and landscape designers might create meaningful structures and settings in the absence of a body, since for most of history the human body itself has provided the fundamental structural scale. This evocative book also contemplates other forms of memorialization within modern societies, from sculptures to parks, most notably the extraordinary Duisberg Park, set in a former giant steelworks in Germany’s Ruhr Valley.