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Kristen Holtzclaw

Where Nature and Mourning Meet

Lost fragments finding purpose. Building a meaningful, eco-friendly, and equitable end of life through designed landscapes that support environmentally beneficial burial practices and help redefine our relationship with death through appropriate land stewardship and intentional ruination.


All living beings and Landscapes alike shift through cycles of growth, decay, and decomposition. The cycles of our world not only reveal death as a natural part of existence, but they also reveal how death makes way for new life. Through Green burials we can be medicine for the Earth, partners in renewal, and nourish the land. Ultimately restoring Nature to this urban landscape and rewilding the space through green burial practices. This site has been abandoned for decades with buildings left in decay. But living with decay forms an accurate grasp of what naturally occurs. Let’s not obliterate the existing architecture but instead embrace its ruination and understand its past. This gives us the opportunity to reinterpret the space in nature and reflect on the duality of humans and past architecture finding purpose again.

Current burial traditions in the US are harmful to our environment and ultimately unsustainable. Materials used in traditional burials such as concrete, steel, copper, toxic chemicals, formaldehyde, pesticides, and herbicides are toxic to our natural environment. Traditional burials have also become commercialized, and many low-income families cannot afford the expenses of dying. The current funeral industry has created a disconnect by leaving little room for direct meaningful involvement. This disconnect leaves a missed opportunity to utilize cemeteries as enjoyable, mindful, learning space that aid in our healing and grieving and help nourish the environment. My goal was to design a multi-functional burial cemetery that provides an abundance of green eco-friendly burial practices that are affordable and accessible to all. Through these green burial practices land can be restored and help the local wildlife flourish. With this families can choose where and how a loved ones remains are returned to the earth. This new cemetery design emphasizes the concept of seeing death as transformation into something new. Using existing lost architecture and landscape and giving life to them again. Losing pieces and finding them again in different approaches. Creating exciting and positive emotions through experiences in the landscape that have previously been thought to produce negative emotions in the past.

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