The dichotomy of weathering in the cemetery, an investigation of experiences and expressions in landscape architecture

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Koski-Harja, Michael Henry
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The process of weathering always influences landscapes. Although different objects will weather at different rates, all materials will eventually change over time. One cannot deny this physical reality in the built environment. However, perceptions of the effects of weathering may be varied and profound. The relationship between people and landscapes (both human built and natural) is a complex psychological event. As a topic of interest to landscape architects, the effects of physical weathering on the perception of outdoor places and objects are investigated in this practicum. This investigation of the perception of weathering is focused on the cemetery. The study describes the conflicting perceptions of weathered forms in the cemetery from the perspective of two groups. One group is the bereaved who visit the cemetery to mourn or remember the dead. The second group of visitors is called the bystanders who visit the cemetery, not with the particular intent of mourning or remembering a person buried in the cemetery, but as a place of cultural interest or atmosphere. This dichotomy of perception in the cemetery is explored by extracting criticism and comment from literature on the subject of landscape architecture, cemeteries and weathering. As a contemporary example, the case study of the Igualada Cemetery is used to describe the intentional allowance of weathering as an expressive quality in the design of a cemetery. An appreciation of weathering is found for both the bystanders and bereaved. At Igualada, the cemetery is designed as an expressive place for all visitors and the process of weathering is an integral part of that expression. The investigation uncovers a number of positive aspects of the process of weathering in the cemetery. The study concludes with a set of insights on possible new directions in the design of cemeteries and landscapes in general.