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Spike Island Natural Organic Reduction Center

Part 1 Project 2022
Martha O’Donoghue Lyons
University College Cork Cork | Ireland
Spike Island is the location of the former prison and fort situated in the center of Cork Harbor. While the surrounding islands and coastline such as Haulbowline and Whitegate has had distinctive industrial development throughout the years, Spike Island remains mostly unchanged since the prison's closure in 2004. The island is distinct amongst the modern infrastructure of generating stations, pylons and wind turbines. The history of death in the prison is poignant throughout, with multiple mass graves located on the Island’s Grounds. My thesis surrounds the concept of growth and ruin working in conjunction to create a lifecycle.

Drawing from these ideas of growth and ruin, life and death I decided to design an NOR center. A funeral home, a place that specializes in the funerary practice of Natural Organic Reduction (NOR). The process of natural organic reduction transforms human remains into soil over the course of two months by using different plants and organic matter to aid the process. This continues the prominent cycle of growth to ruin on the site.

This project explores how we interact with death and memory. It offers an alternative to modern burial and funerary practices that celebrates and utilizes life and death cycle within its reduction and ceremonial processes.

It also addresses our spatial impact on the landscape after death and proposes a new way of after death care that focuses on a circular and sustainable system.

Martha O’Donoghue Lyons


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