unisa architecture and interior architecture annual exhibition 2021


Michael Reitano

bachelor of architectural studies

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A forgotten island for the forgotten few. The design project here on Hart Island aims to acknowledge history with a forward-thinking form of memorialisation and burial. The neglected site will be transformed into a forest as a backdrop for a memorialisation experience and a new eco-friendly form of burial.

Visitors are lead through this forest via a river that connects to various follies along the way, spreading out into shallow pools where the ruined buildings sit untouched viewed only from afar.

The high point of the island a folly feeds water into the Ellen Torron memorial surrounded by a circular maze of constricting walls engraved with the names of COVID-19 victims. In the middle, a place to sit in quiet reflection.

Deceased arrive by boat into a building part mortuary, part boat shed, part machine. Its form splits and diverges into various programs. Materials are brick, a nod to the existing buildings; timber beams stitch together the programs for the forest that will become; butterfly roof, an inverted, distorted form of the gabled roofs around the site.

Awaiting interment into burial pods, their bodies will be buried beneath native birch trees – chosen for its quick growth and timber construction qualities. After the body decomposes, the tree is cut down, the timber used throughout the island for new follies. Etched with their names they become part of the memorialisation of the island.


always was, always will be Kaurna land

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