Whispering Garden

‘In memory's garden we meet everyday’


[ARCHOUTLOUD Tokyo Vertical Cemetery Competition]


The whispering garden serves as an public space and vertical cemetery. It connects the living to the dead, through the remaining whispers, echoes and sounds. The architecture turns the decreased into a space for the living to cherish the memories of their loved ones.


The open structure is made entirely out of concrete arches, where the urns are placed. Each arch has a built in sound player system, where voice messages can be saved and replayed. The voices create a virtual space where the dead are immortalised and the visitors can hear their loved one’s voice one more time.


It is said that there are five stages of grief; denial, anger, bargaining, depression and acceptance. Some would believe that it would be heartbreaking to hear one’s voice again. However, no matter which stage of mourning a person is at, the whispering garden is sanctuary for those willing to remember their loved ones when they are ready to.


Nothing stops when you lose a loved one. The city is still dense, busy, everyday routine goes on, but part of you feels empty, and there’s a need for grief, silence, the getting used to that emptiness. The architecture reflects that, a hollow space, a breathing room, a place to grief.  

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‘Till death do us part’



Each arch is created for two set of ashes, intending for couples to be buried together. As the arches do have separate shelving spaces for the urns, it can be for two completely unrelated personnel. However, the intention is for family, and the decreased’s other half.


‘Ashes to ashes, dust to dust’



We are made out of the dust of the earth, and that is what we turn back into after one has passed. The arches are covered with climbing plants in reflection to the significance of life and death. The plants also creates this vertical garden.


‘Last message’



The voice message system reflects upon the pop culture of Tokyo, a virtual sound experience in which helps the visitors to cherish memories of their loved ones.


Similar to a will, people can leave messages for their love ones at this cemetery. More than a place to mourn, it’s also a place to remember. Each arch has speakers and a player set up to play remaining messages. (With password protected for family/friends only) There are two options in setting up the messages, it can either be messages left by those before they have passed, or voicemail uploaded from mobile phones.


Wisteria 藤


Specifically chosen for the project, the flower wisteria has a great symbolism in Japanese culture. Historically, the sight of the purple wisteria has always comforted followers of Buddhism because it was believed that Amida Buddha would descend on a purple cloud to guide them to the Western Paradise. Records indicate that wisteria has been known to live up to 100 years and even older (there is a 1200 year old wisteria tree in Japan). It's long-life bestows the symbolic meaning of immortality.