Banality of Death

Rest stop I – The playscape

Jesse Verdoes

Figure 1 – View on playscape from the highway

The playscape operates as an initiation space, before the visitor is confronted with the territory of death through the actual ritual. The site can be approached via two highways that lead to the parking. From there, the landscape can be accessed via a steel bridge or concrete water tunnel which cross the highway. These two materials ultimately come together in the design of the intervention, which is initially hidden from view.

Figure 2 – Plan of the playscape

Figure 3 – Sections of the playscape

I Manipulation of Territory

Figure 4 – Understanding I, manipulation of territory

The design for the playground is an assembly of different understandings of the architecture of death, combined with the site-specific factors such as the removal of the Baha’I cemetery. A series of pictures show how the terrain is manipulated by the different operations as the intervention is built up.

Figure 5 – Build-up of playscape model – manipulation of terrain

The main gesture of the design is a translation of the conflict between the Baha’I and the Islam religion as its shape comes forth from the clashing directions of the two respective grave systems. The lowered path -the gallery- allows the visitor to reflect on his/her relation to the ground. Subsequently, the displacement of the Baha’I cemetery is translated into an array of columns across the site, which ignores the rest of the composition as it conflicts with the other elements.

Figure 6 – Plan of playscape

II Standardized Measuremnet System

Figure 7 – Understanding II, standardized measurement system

The standardized measurement system of the graves is revealed so that living bodies can come in physical contact with it in different ways, both above and below ground. For instance, in the concrete elements in the retaining walls of the gallery, where the standard is occasionally altered, showing how the human body is conditioned by the frame.

Figure 8 – Interactions with the grave unit

Figure 9 – Section of the gallery

Figure 10 – Elevation of the gallery

III Framing of Decay

Figure 11 – Understanding III, framing of decay

Architecture as the framing of decay is translated to the intervention in two ways. The first one elaborates on the understanding that the cemetery is a place for the organization of waste, where the body is seen as waste product of the city and is disposed of in an orderly manner organized by a grid system. Drawing a parallel to this, the decay of the rapidly changing inner city, in the form of construction waste -yellow bricks or concrete blocks-, is sorted and framed in steel cages that materialize the retaining walls of the gallery.

Figure 12 – Detailed elevation of gallery – organisation of waste

The second application can be found in the patio that is surrounded by trees. Through the design of the concrete edge, water from the surrounding ground is able to flow into the concrete structure and can only ‘escape’ by evaporating. With the occasional rain, the basin fills up with water. It slowly disappears as the water evaporates until it leaves an empty frame, emphasizing its absence (fig. 15).

Figure 13 – Sections and detail of the basin – Framing of decay


Through a series of manipulations that is ordered by the measurement system, the playground has the character of a field that gradually transitions into the landscape. The design can never be fully grasped as there is no overview, leaving the visitor to wander around and discover. By accommodating playful interaction, the territory of death is made accessible. In the playscape, the visitors -perhaps unknowingly- comes into contact with the architecture of death, preparing them for the rest of the ritual.

Figure 14 – The playscape

Figure 15 – Interactions with the architecture of death


TU Delft / Faculty of Architecture