Jerome Tsui CL
Diploma 14

What Remains of Man: Architecture of the Living Dead

In today’s post-fordist economy, Capital has managed to blur the dualism of body and soul by creating a workforce where everything related to the Soul such as language, creativity and general intellect, is used for production.  This project explores this dualism in labour and architecture through the dialectics between the machine and the monument.

The Machine, the how of utility.  Architecture and labour driven by movement and process, 'a means to an end'.  This transferium, a 300x 300metre square frame connecting different infrastructure of the city, will serve as a new monumental gate to Rome.The frame contains the infrastructural and civic parts of the city: the church, the university, the park, the roads and the railways - the generic components or working parts of any contemporary cities.The machine for living – 1600 dwellings for the new precarious workers – hovers above the ground, allowing the different levels of the city to flow through but at the same time 'the frame' offers a structure for change.The service cores connect the different layers of the city, providing structural support, vertical circulation and ventilation below.Although the machine and monument are presented as opposites, they are conceptually the same. They are designed based on the square in an ascalar fashion.  This level of abstraction, the essence of capital today, is perhaps the way to operate in between the dualism of post-Fordism.The monument, the what of representation and reification as revealed in urban artifacts and tombs, 'an end in itself' free of any instrumental constrains. This columbarium, 16 x 16-metre-square, is a machine for the soul.The void space of the columbarium is a space of the soul. The exterior rammed earth wall and the stairs to the crypt is open to the elements. In the centre is a covered metal structure, holding the urns of 1600 dead.Like a plinth, the underground crypt holds the jewel-like columbarium above. The inner space of this monument is a place of absence.This Columbarium blurs the distinction between the machine and monument, where the natural properties of zinc and copper are used to galvanise the metal structure by incorporating bi-metallic corrosion in the design process. The urn acts as a battery where human remains is put to work, even in death.The monument is a critique and provocation of how we work and live in between extremes. In a society where labour has become a necessity, whether or not there is room for meaning, to think or create something that goes beyond means to an end to means with no end.  Without the monument and the tomb, what is common to each one of us will cease to exist in the city and will only remain in the landscape of the past.