This thesis investigates the architectural setting for assisted death. The environment has never been designed, current centres making use of existing urban residential spaces. We set ourselves the ambitious task of exploring this new typology. This thesis defines a programme for this unique process whilst asking the question of how the architecture of a dignified death would present itself. Currently, assisted dying takes place in the centre of Switzerland’s largest cities, the setting is industrial. For this thesis, a connection to nature was paramount: siting the scheme in the Alps gave us this connection.
This thesis explores how art and architecture can provide moments and interventions that will help unite groups of family and friends in the face of a difficult decision. A landscape which individuals, their family and friends, can explore to accept the outcome of an assisted death.
For us, The Sublime acts as a higher influence. It provides the spiritual element of the project. Although assisted death is not accepted by any religion, it is important to provide elements in the design that offer awe, comfort and solace. We looked towards the raw power of nature. The Sublime.
This thesis provides an arrangement of spaces to experience the individual and collective emotions that surround an assisted death.
‘The focus of grief is not on our ability to understand, but our ability to feel’
Every reaction to grief is personal and entirely individual, a set journey cannot be laid out, it is best described as a process. The scheme is laid out with only two fixed points on the site. The first, a group of buildings at the entrance, where people can learn and decide about assisted death. The second is a set of buildings for the family and friends after death.
In between, there is no set journey. Once the decision has been made to have an assisted death the individual and their companions travel across the lake and can explore at their own pace. There are two main typologies of building here, spaces where counselling through art can happen and interventions that provide spiritual refuge and comfort. Also included are accommodation spaces for people to stay in whilst they process the decision and say their goodbyes.