the cemetery pays

In a context lacking clients, commissions and opportunities to grow, Unsolicited Architecture (according to Ole Bouman’s concept) can and should profit from them to generate a more prosperous one. The architectural act needs to be re-understood in a more ample sense, by detecting oneself problems, improvements and better futures for existing reality. Since nobody commissions, this new approach relies on a very active – almost politically activist – phase of marketing an idea. As published in Volume#14 within the portfolio of the Office of Unsolicited Architecture, their vision for the Golden Gate site can illustrate this new way of doing. The method includes four steps.

First, MAKE controversial challenges and public hot debates PATENT: stopping suicides at Golden Gate Bridge, the top suicide magnet in the world. Artist Natalie Jeremijenko already produced SUICIDE BOX (1996) to visualize this practice, a motion detection video system designed to capture vertical activity. […] In standard operation any vertical motion in frame will trigger the camera to record to disk. Bureau installed the Suicide Box for trial application in range of the Golden Gate Bridge California 1996; an initial deployment period [100 days] metered 17 bridge events.

However, constructing a suicide barrier is a very polemic issue that divides population into for and against sides.

Second, DETECT fields of action. On the one hand, there is a general lack of cemeteries, since they were outlawed within the urban limits of San Francisco since 1902. This has generated a growing need for more plots. On the other hand, there is an increasing budget deficit with the whole structure of the Golden Gate Bridge, which fails to be solved by increasing exponentially the bridge tolls for vehicles.

Third, PROPOSE and SPECULATE within a logical discourse. What if new cemetery is built and at the same time pays for these tolls? Additionally, the Bridge would need a suicide barrier. In order not to alter the aesthetics of the landmark, a camouflaged and light pathway could be cantilevered from the structure, preventing potential victims to jump into the water. A columbarium with niches for cremated remains could be introduced inside the iron beams, turning the Golden Gate into the ultimate snobbish cemetery/memorial. The rental of every niche could support the maintenance costs of the Bridge by far, without increasing vehicle tolls.

Fourth, PROVE the speculative hypothesis by means of studies: urn studies and estimation of the amount of niches needed compared to the tolls. In short, the goal is to achieve realistic, but at the same time utopian, feasibility of the unsolicited architectural act. Afterwards, the marketing phase must deal with the process of opening debate for such a solution. Even if it eventually fails to be realised, its side effect is reconsidering a better social future.

“(O)pportunities which challenge the traditional relationship architects have to the law are often overlooked. Therefore, instead of seeing rules and regulations as hindrances they can also be viewed as opportunities. Even more, they could be turned into urgencies by applying them to taboo social topics.”

Unsolicited Architecture must reinterpret obsolete laws in a perverted reading. Rather than being fix limitations, they can even foster and support delirious. Transgression can open many forgotten doors with high potential. However, the main condition is that taboos are not understood as self-imposed barriers anymore, but as thresholds for action.

[1>Office of Unsolicited Architecture, Reported Suicides at Golden Gate related to light posts after chronicle graphic by Todd Trumbull][2>Natalie Jermijenko, Suicide Box, still from video, 1996][3> OUA, Golden Gate Columbarium proposal]

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