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Metropolis versus necropolis: Polarity in the relationship between the city and the cemetery in history

Amadei, GL; (2006) Metropolis versus necropolis: Polarity in the relationship between the city and the cemetery in history. Doctoral thesis , UCL (University College London). Green open access

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Abstract

The evolution of the city and the cemetery have always been running parallel in history, one couldn't exist without the other their relationship has always been strongly intertwined, yet strongly polarised. The aim of this report is to analyse key historical examples, relating to particular historical events, which in my opinion, may help to open - at least a partial view - on the evolution of the relationship between the city and the cemetery, affected by the shifting and changing balance of religious, political and socio-cultural components. In ancient times, the human body was taken as a reference to design the city first developing the metaphor of the city as a living organism - a metaphor which will be largely used through history, as will we see later. In the Greek and Roman cultures, the dead were not allowed to pollute the space of the living and the cemetery and the city were two separate entities. The advent of Christianity in Medieval times, saw the introduction of churchyards within the city walls, which also along with poor heath conditions of the then cities, facilitated the spread of epidemic diseases such as cholera. The Renaissance brought with it the desire to start afresh new cities and towns. The many projects of ideal cities left behind by architects such as Filarete or Scamozzi, were primarily concerned with the aesthetic and the security of the city rather than the real issues- health and hygiene and the spread epidemic diseases issues that finally urbanists had to address with the expansion of the cities due to the advent of the Industrial Revolution. Work forces during this particular historical moment moved from the countryside to city centres. The absence of any burial regulation and health issues urged the introduction of legislations which moved the cemeteries out of the city. In England, the Burial Act (which came to force in 1851) marked the introduction of suburban necropolises in the Victorian era, to resolve the issues of crowed inner city burial grounds, and guarantee city inhabitants a healthier life in the city centres. This also facilitated the condition for the development of a new strong architectural language specific to the cemetery in the Victorian era, which mostly came from cultures with strong past records of funerary traditions, like the Egyptians or the Romans. The new suburban necropolis in Victorian England, was the starting point of a new type of cemetery, which was also perceived as a public civic space, like a park. From now on we will see that the city and the cemetery will be almost completely separated: the city - growing into the metropolis, a complex, sometimes chaotic large urban development, and the cemetery - The Renaissance brought with it the desire to start afresh new cities and towns. The many projects of ideal cities left behind by architects such as Filarete or Scamozzi, were primarily concerned with the aesthetic and the security of the city rather than the real issues health and hygiene and the spread epidemic diseases issues that finally urbanists had to address with the expansion of the cities due to the advent of the Industrial Revolution. Work forces during this particular historical moment moved from the countryside to city centres. The absence of any burial regulation and health issues urged the introduction of legislations which moved the cemeteries out of the city. In England, the Burial Act (which came to force in 1851) marked the introduction of suburban necropolises in the Victorian era, to resolve the issues of crowed inner city burial grounds, and guarantee city inhabitants a healthier life in the city centres. This also facilitated the condition for the development of a new strong architectural language specific to the cemetery in the Victorian era, which mostly came from cultures with strong past records of funerary traditions, like the Egyptians or the Romans. The new suburban necropolis in Victorian England, was the starting point of a new type of cemetery, which was also perceived as a public civic space, like a park. From now on we will see that the city and the cemetery will be almost completely separated: the city - growing into the metropolis, a complex, sometimes chaotic large urban development, and the cemetery.

Type: Thesis (Doctoral)
Title: Metropolis versus necropolis: Polarity in the relationship between the city and the cemetery in history
Open access status: An open access version is available from UCL Discovery
Language: English
Additional information: Thesis digitised by ProQuest.
UCL classification:
URI: https://discovery.ucl.ac.uk/id/eprint/1569440
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