Dreaming of Death Architecture

Still Life 03 - with David Rademacher, Susanne Duijvestein and Robin Beers

18 Sep 2019

The design of our cemeteries and crematories tells a lot about how we relate to death culturally. In our western culture, we seem to have pushed death behind the scenes for decades, after centuries of memento mori moralism. But times are changing, it appears we are slowly embracing our inevitable nature of death again. This raises an interesting question: how could architecture help us embrace death in stead of denying it? During this third Still Life edition we will review the current state of our goodbye architecture, and discover death embracing architecture together with David Rademacher, Robin Beers and Susanne Duijvestein.  

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3D section of the Halls of Farewell - Geometric construction the Halls of Farewell: A. Podgorny In the second half of 1960s, local authorities initiated the creation of Kiev crematorium. This idea immediately faced the opposition among the architectural community of Kiev: the process of industrial incineration of corpses was associated with the destruction of victim’s bodies after the Nazi massacre at Babi Yar. © A. Podgorny

In the Netherlands, for centuries, there used to be a tradition of only burying the dead, cremation wasn’t allowed until 1914. Cemeteries were located at the centre of villages and cities, often part of the churches, where the ceremonies were held before the dead were brought outside to be buried. Urban expansion, secularisation, professionalisation and the increasing demand for cremation were important reasons to move cemeteries outside the cities and design new buildings and landscapes. This architecture represented a new culture of death, far away from daily life.

But of course, culture is a continuously changing thing. And so is our death culture. Nowadays for instance, there is an increasing popularity of natural burials. So what are nowadays kinds of places that help us remember our loved ones, express our personalities, reflect on life and help us embrace our own temporariness? Could the design or redesign of these places help us connect to our inevitable nature of death?

This evening, we will discover some interesting ideas about death embracing architecture. After an introduction and short review of the current goodbye architecture by host Susanne Duijvestein, architect David Rademacher will show us his crypt concept for repurposing the old ENCI-mines in Limburg. Architecture student Robin Beers will share her dreams of (other people) dying in the flood plains of the Waal river. And we will close the evening with some thoughts on designing places for watercremation and composting bodies, two emerging alternatives for burial and cremation.

David Rademacher

After several years of lecturing and researching landscape architecture at ETH Zurich, Berlage Institute, Center of Advanced Studies in Architecture and Urban design and the Academy for Architecture in Rotterdam and Tilburg, David Rademacher started design and research office Rademacher de Vries that focuses on architecture, the city and the urban environment. In his work, David seeks to produce relevant spatial insights that are rooted in a self-conscious understanding of our discipline and culture. In 2008, David Rademacher created a design for the transformation of the industrial ENCI-quarry into a public landscape and included a crypt concept.

Robin Beers

Robin Beers is an architecture masterstudent at the ArtEZ Art Academy and designer in training at urban strategy and architecture office INBO. She designed a concept in 2019 for a hospice and wake site where people can peacefully die and rest in the flood plains of the Waal river in Nijmegen.

Susanne Duijvestein

After eleven years in cooperative banking, Susanne Duijvestein switched into funeral business. Being young, progressive and independent, she reflects on the ethics and aesthetics in this world, but she also likes to reflect on how we relate to our own transience, what we eventually leave behind on this planet and how we can reclaim a non-commercial funeral culture again. Susanne is curator Pro Mortem at Mediamatic.


Still Life: Architecture
Wednesday, the 20th of October
Start 20:30
Mediamatic Biotoop, Dijksgracht 6, Amsterdam
Tickets: Full price €7,50 | Student / Artist / Stadspas €5,25* | +€2,50 at the door | (including €1 administration fee)

*We give a discount to students and artists. If this applies to you we will ask to see your kvk nr/portfolio or student card for this option. For questions please send an email to

You will receive a 25% discount on our 3-course menu at Mediamatic ETEN upon presentation of your ticket! Only valid on day of event.