SIDEWALK Cemetery, Tokyo- Design Competition



Our project is a lyrical take on the life / death, burial and remembrance practices. 

Increasingly, our densifying cities across the world are going to run out of burial grounds, forcing humanity to wonder if the issue of burial will ever be solved perfectly. And in that scenario, no one would want an exclusive city of dead next to their homes.

Making an energy intensive vertical tower seems an absurd solution to something as simple and universal a phenomenon of death. To reach out to a loved one’s grave, high up through lifts is going to feel more contrived above all else, not offering ever a befitting dignity to the act of praying and remembering.

The Japanese have had a very rich spiritual and cultural heritage around the idea of life and death.  This moment, is a very ripe one; to bring forth those ideas, reflect on death, urging a cultural shift in burial practices.

Imagine a world where death is a common place, it’s not something not to fear, or to hide, but to befriend and to accept. To revere death as a friendly transition of soul.

What if death was to be just another event in life, with the public as a witness!

We propose sidewalk burials, as a departure from a graveyard burial practice. After the cremation of their dead, the Japanese shall bury the urns along sidewalks, as creative little garden offerings to the city.  Under the bridges, along the footpath, in the traffic islands, the spirits of the beloved souls inhabit the whole city, as reminders of the fleeting nature of life and its deep beauty.



All existing green patches and some new strips get earmarked as “burial spaces” by the town planning department of Tokyo. It leads by example and shows the world a way to solve not just and urban issue, but allow an impetus for a practice that could become a  spiritual fix to society.

These widespread burial strips allow the earth to breathe, and engage with street life.

The very Japanese trait of making miniature, intricate landscape gestures could be its new creative canvas. By Speaking about life through dead, realms of living and dying, thus get intricately woven as if building the city fabric together.

These new burial patches bring forth messages and poetries, and even “jisei” that were traditionally written as death poems in last moments.




The Site is left untouched in spirit; it’s already a public plaza. We propose to open another competition for artists to design a sculpture around this new perspective towards death.

Our entry to that completion would be a hybrid monumental Shinto/Buddhist gateway that leads nowhere, symbolically representing the transition between life and death, highlighting the here and now.

This site houses an underground office that manages the space allocation along the streets and finds spaces for burial. The sidewalk cemeteries management team consists of street designers, city planners, gardeners and cemetery staff whose joint efforts offer new befitting pavement burial culture to the city of Tokyo.